Sweet Tooth

I’ve read most of Ian McEwan’s 15 books, happy to be engaged by this intelligent and graceful writer. My favorites so far are the rich historical piece Atonement and Saturday, a profile of a successful London neurosurgeon suddenly beset by violence on the Saturday before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. McEwan’s latest (released last year, and in paperback this summer) takes place in 1972 and features a female narrator, Serena Frome. She’s a bright and beautiful but naive young woman, a reader of novels, who is recruited to MI5, the British domestic spy agency. There she’s told to enlist a young writer, Tom Haley, in a secret program (called Sweet Tooth) designed to funnel money to anticommunist writers without their knowing it. She and Haley fall in love but soon find themselves so confused by the many lies told and masks worn by all involved, including themselves, that everything they value is threatened. Wait for the ending—it’s a dazzler.