The followup to the literate and action-packed historical thriller Speakeasy, Doublespeak finds plucky protagonist Lena on a journey back to her past.
Lieutenant Lena Stillman has been left, nearly alone, on her code-breaking mission in remote Alaska. World War II has been over for a month, but due to crimes committed a lifetime ago, Lena is still under the control of the powerful Miss Maggie.
Shaken by her role in the disappearance of Corporal Link Hughes—and by her own misjudgment of his character—Lena yearns for an opportunity to redeem them both. Then she receives a shocking message containing Link’s potential location: Siam. Embarking on a clandestine rescue mission to Bangkok, Lena is reunited with shadows from her past—including loyal friend Byron who is eager to escape his safe, dull life and the attractive yet dangerous “William Yardly.” As personal and political allegiances shift in the postwar maelstrom, it seems impossible to know who is good or bad, innocent or culpable and whether they are motivated by love or revenge.
Overlaying rich historic detail and an intricate plot, Doublespeak is an entrancing sequel to Alisa Smith’s first novel Speakeasy, which received the honor of being a Walter Scott Prize Academy recommended book of 2018.
Smith's intricate sequel to 2017's Speakeasy examines the political and cultural milieu of the tumultuous period immediately after WWII. As Lena Stillman, a Canadian code-breaker for the Office of Strategic Services, "the innocuous name for the wartime spy agency of the United States," observes: "From my front-row seat in decryption, I knew that allegiances were shifting by the hour. The war was moving from the battlefield to the backrooms. No nation, or person, was permanently classed as friend or enemy." Lena learns the truth of that statement firsthand when she receives word that Corporal Link Hughes, who has been presumed dead, is in Siam, and in danger from Russian agents. She sets off to the Far East and a meeting with Bill Bagley, a kingpin in the burgeoning Siamese opium trade, who she believes has information about Hughes. Chapters alternate between those told from Lena's point of view and that of her friend Byron Godfrey, who works for Bagley. Smith regales the reader with a tale of adventure and intrigue, meticulously anchored in its place and time.