Christmas Comforts: Simon Berthon

Christmas Day may already be over, but we still have plenty of Christmas Comfort reads up our sleeve! Today, Simon Berthon, author of A Time to Lie, shares his recommendation with us. Brace yourself for a dark and chilling tale this Boxing Day…


Simon Berthon recommends…

Snowdrops. Such an innocent, peaceful word conjuring up the Christmases we all used to have before global warming when the world lay calm and white and we hummed the theme to Raymond Briggs’s Snowman. If you open the page of A D Miller’s Snowdrops, that will all blow up in your face.

The opening image is powerfully arresting, one of the great thriller settings in my view. Moscow, the winter snow thawing, bystanders gawping, a smell “like the kind you get home to if you forgot to put your rubbish out on holiday”. The melt reveals a foot, perfectly preserved by the natural freezer it has spent the winter in. The first sign of a corpse or a snowdrop, as they say in the post-communist boomtimes of crooks, oligarchs and reinvented KGB agents. “The sins the winter hides”.

Our witness is an English lawyer, Nick, and, as it will turn out, the book is his confession years later to his fiancée of how he was seduced by the lure of Russia and played by a beautiful, enigmatic woman called Masha and her mysterious accomplices. And yet, despite the damage it does, it is the sense of loss that will always haunt him. The plot neatly unfolds at its own pace, the cast fascinates, but the greatest character of all is something called atmosphere.


Simon Berthon’s A Time to Lie is available to buy now from your local bookshop,, Hive, Waterstones, and Amazon. Don’t forget, you can still discover our other Christmas Comfort recommendations right here!

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