Gods of Deception
Barnes & Noble
Published by: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Release Date: May 17, 2022
At age ninety-five, Judge Edward Dimock, patriarch of his family and the man who defended Alger Hiss in the famous 1950 Cold War "trial of the century," is writing his memoir at his fabled Catskill retreat, Hermitage, with its glorious Italian Renaissance ceiling. Judge Dimock is consumed with doubts about the troubling secrets he's kept to himself for over fifty years-secrets that might change both American history and the lives of his entire family. Was his client guilty of spying for Stalin or not? And if guilty, did Hiss's crimes go far beyond his perjury conviction-a verdict that divided the country for a generation?
Dimock enlists his grandson, George Altmann, a brilliant Princeton astrophysicist, in the quest for truth. Reluctantly, George finds himself drawn into the web of deceit that has ravaged his family, his curiosity sparked by a string of clues found in the Judge's unpublished memoir and in nine pencil sketches of accused Soviet agents pinned to an old corkboard in his grandfather's abandoned office. Even more dismaying, the drawings are by George's paternal grandfather and namesake, a once-famous painter who covered the Hiss trial as a courtroom artist for the Herald Tribune, only to die in uncertain circumstances in a fall from Woodstock's Fishkill Bridge on Christmas Eve, 1949. Many of the suspected agents also died from ambiguous falls (a KGB specialty) or disappeared behind the Iron Curtain-and were conveniently unable to testify in the Hiss trial.
George begins to realize the immensity of what is at stake: deceptive entanglements that will indeed alter the accepted history of the Cold War-and how he understands his own unhappy Woodstock childhood, growing up in the shadow of a rumored suicide and the infidelities of an alcoholic father, a roadie with The Band.
In Gods of Deception, acclaimed novelist David Adams Cleveland has created a multiverse all its own: a thrilling tale of espionage, a family saga, a stirring love story, and a meditation on time and memory, astrophysics and art, taking the reader on an unforgettable journey into the troubled human heart as well as the past-a past that is ever present, where the gods of deception await our distant call.
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“In the early days of the Cold War, many Americans simply could not believe that a perfect gentleman like Alger Hiss could be a red spy. David Adams Cleveland uses his gifts as a storyteller to imagine deeper human truths behind the headlines. Gods of Deception is a lushly vivid tale of a haunted time.”
—Evan Thomas, author of The Very Best Men and Being Nixon
“Truly compelling . . . an engaging fictionalized account of an absorbing espionage case.”
“A magisterial achievement”
—Medium: The Reading Lists
“Gods of Deception is a powerful novel about guilt, family, art and spies, which spans generations going back to the Cold War and America's hunt for Communists in the 1950s. With Russia reemerging as a belligerent force in world politics, it's also a very timely read.”
—Crime Fiction Lover
“Gods of Deception is an accomplished and compelling novel of enormous ambition, and it offers the most searching and thoughtful examination of the crisis and transformation of the old WASP elite that I have seen. David Cleveland is a major American novelist whose ear for language, eye for both natural and artistic detail, cultural scholarship, understanding of human character, and feel for American social reality make him a national treasure.”
—Walter Russell Mead (global view columnist at the Wall Street Journal), The Washington Examiner