Tags: liberationsquare | rubin | d-day | spy | communist

'Liberation Square' - A Murder Thriller in Communist London

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By Sunday, 05 April 2020 07:51 AM Current | Bio | Archive

As most of us get used to “social distance” and operating primarily from home, one good thing that may come of it is an increase in our reading.

In contemporary novels, there is considerable good fare.  One particularly memorable work comes from across the ocean and has recently become available to U.S. readers —“Liberation Square,” the first work of fiction by British journalist Gareth Rubin.

It is London in 1952 and Jane Cawson has reason to believe Nick, her husband of six months and a successful, socially prominent physician, is up to something.  She suspects him of continuing a relationship with his former wife, popular film actress Lorelei, and decides to confront the woman at her flat upon learning Nick is out on a “house call.”

There she finds the woman dead in her bathtub.  Police soon descend on the flat and it is Nick himself who is charged with the murder.  While realizing that she really doesn’t know the man she married as well as she thought, Jane sets out to clear his name. 

In a saga full of twists, turns, and considerable suspense, Jane deals with police investigators, her stepdaughter, and high-level officials of the government of Communist-run London.

That’s right.  You read it correctly—Communist-run London, capital of the Republic of Great Britain. 

This is Rubin’s alternate history, taking a different — and quite unique — detour from the world after the Axis triumph portrayed in Philip K. Dick’s “The Man in the High Castle” and Robert Harris’s “Fatherland.”

In Rubin’s world, D-Day was a tremendous failure and the Nazis ended up occupying Great Britain for a short time.  Then the allies arrived — the Americans from the West, the Russians from the East — and liberated Britain, sort of.  Britain is divided in half.  Winston Churchill and the Royal Family rule over one part of the country, and the other is part of the Soviet Union. 

The inevitable comparisons are made to East and West Germany, right down to a wall dividing London between the two Britains.  Anthony Blunt, famed as the Queen’s art advisor and later exposed as a Soviet agent in postwar Britain, is head of the British Communist Party and thus the man in London who gets his orders from the Kremlin.  Kim Philby and Guy Burgess, famed as spies for Moscow while holding high diplomatic posts in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, are both in the Cabinet of the Soviet-ruled Republic of Great Britain.

It is in this dark and unpleasant place — complete with its own secret police — through which Jane has to navigate her way to learning who killed Lorelai and whether it is possible to clear Nick’s name.  This leads to run-ins with London’s bobbies and the torture- friendly secret police, some surprising encounters with the Communist powers-that-be, and a never-anticipated climax. 

Even if this unique alternate history is not one’s “cup of tea” (pardon the pun), surely the reader will be captivated by the intrigue and high drama in Jane Cawson’s ordeal.  “Liberation Square” is bound to be a potent elixir for boredom during the weeks of quarantining most of us are facing.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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As most of us get used to "social distance" and operating primarily from home, one good thing that may come of it is an increase in our reading.In contemporary novels, there is considerable good fare. ...
liberationsquare, rubin, d-day, spy, communist
Sunday, 05 April 2020 07:51 AM
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