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Constant Nobody

Constant Nobody

440 pages
Published:   March 2, 2021
Fiction  /  Novels  /  Historical Fiction
Paperback:   9781773101576    $24.95

Winner, Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award
Longlisted, Newfoundland and Labrador Fiction Award and Miramichi Reader's "The Very Best!" Book Awards (Novel)
One of 49th Shelf's Books of the Year

The time is 1937. The place: the Basque Country, embroiled in the Spanish Civil War. Polyglot and British intelligence agent Temerity West encounters Kostya Nikto, a Soviet secret police agent. Kostya has been dispatched to assassinate a doctor as part of the suppression of a rogue communist faction. When Kostya finds his victim in the company of Temerity, she expects Kostya to execute her -- instead, he spares her.

Several weeks later, Temerity is reassigned to Moscow. When she is arrested by the secret police, she once again encounters Kostya. His judgement impaired by pain, morphine, and alcohol, he extricates her from a dangerous situation and takes her to his flat. In the morning, they both awaken to the realities of what Kostya has done. Although Kostya wants to keep Temerity safe, the cost will be high. And Temerity must decide where her loyalties lie.

Writing about violence with an unusual grace, Michelle Butler Hallett tells a story of complicity, love, tyranny, and identity. Constant Nobody is a thrilling novel that asks how far an individual will go to protect another — whether out of love or fear.
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Michelle Butler Hallett, she/her, is a history nerd and disabled person who writes fiction about violence, evil, love, and grace. The Toronto Star describes her work as "perfectly paced and gracefully wrought," while Quill and Quire calls it "complex, lyrical, and with a profound sense of a world long passed." Her short stories are widely anthologized in Hard Ol’ Spot, The Vagrant Revue of New Fiction, Everything Is So Political, Running the Whale’s Back, and Best American Mystery Stories, and her essay "You’re Not ‘Disabled’ Disabled" appears in Land of Many Shores. Her most recent novel, This Marlowe, was longlisted for the ReLit Award and the Dublin International Literary Award. Her first novel, Double-blind, was shortlisted for the Sunburst Award.

Butler Hallett lives in St. John’s. Constant Nobody is her fifth novel.


Longlisted: Miramichi Reader's "The Very Best!" Book Awards (Novel)
One of 49th Shelf's Books of the Year
Winner: Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award
Longlisted: Newfoundland and Labrador Fiction Award


“With vivid characters and indelible images that transmit the cruel bleakness of Stalin’s Russia and ruthless gentility of Chamberlain’s England, Butler Hallett conjures a morally complex world of high-stakes international espionage where nothing is as it seems — except that the human heart wants what it wants.
"In Constant Nobody, Michelle Butler Hallett gives us a spy thriller that does more than entertain. It asks us to meditate on the fundamental questions of existence: who can we trust, and what should we believe?” — Christine Fischer Guy, author of The Umbrella Mender

Constant Nobody is a suspenseful work of historical fiction, populated with nesting dolls of intrigue, identity, and revelation. Set on the murky borders of war and political unrest, Constant Nobody is a powerful reminder of the importance of connection, one person to another, no matter the cost.” — Ami McKay, author of Half Spent Was the Night

Constant Nobody is a remarkably accomplished novel. It takes readers deep into the brutal hearts of darkness of both civil war Spain and Soviet Russia during Stalin’s purges. In those hellish places, men and women struggle with duty and survival while tormenting their victims and being tormented in turn. In the nightmarish world of violence, a man and a woman must grapple with their complicated relationship while trying to save themselves from destruction.” — Antanas Sileika, author of Provisionally Yours

“Wholly original in story, style and form.” — Christi Ann Conlin

“Gripping, gorgeous, and unforgettable.” — Pickle Me This

“[Constant Nobody] is an immersive sensory experience. There were moments when it felt like I was in the front row of an intimate theatrical performance.” — Bonnie Lendrum

“Without a doubt, Constant Nobody is a difficult, sprawling, challenging novel, but its power is undeniable.” — Miramichi Reader

Constant Nobody is a compelling read about a time and place western writers often don't bother with.” — Downhome

Constant Nobody works. It rehearses — and I mean that in the most generous sense of that verb — the tropes of spy genre fiction with energy and verve. And yes, Hallett injects some much-needed ambiguity and questioning into these tropes — all too often misogynistic to their core — and implies a number of interesting and difficult questions.” — Newfoundland and Labrador Studies

“Nothing falls outside the scope of Michelle Butler Hallett's huge talent. In this novel, she explores the psychology of fear as few are able and does so with absolute confidence.” — Miramichi Reader's “Ten Outstanding #ReadAtlantic Books”

“In Constant Nobody, readers learn that history is windows and mirrors: it all depends on who is directing your gaze.” — Temz Review

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