Published: March 2, 2021
Fiction / Novels / Historical Fiction
Paperback: 9781773101576 $24.95
One of 49th Shelf's 2021 Books of the Year
Longlisted, Miramichi Reader's "The Very Best!" Book Awards (Novel)
For fans of Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light comes an historical espionage novel with a contemporary edge from Michelle Butler Hallett.
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.
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.
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.
One of 49th Shelf's Books of the Year
"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.” — The 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.” — The Miramichi Reader's “Ten Outstanding #ReadAtlantic Books”