From the winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2012 for Best Thriller of the Year comes a gripping and suspenseful new spy novel. Perfect for fans of John le Carré, Charles Cumming is 'the master of the modern spy thriller' (Mail on Sunday).
Thomas Kell thought he was done with spying. A former MI6 officer, he devoted his life to the service, but it has left him with nothing but grief and a simmering anger against the Kremlin. Then Kell is offered an unexpected chance at revenge. Taking the law into his own hands, he embarks on a mission to recruit a top Russian spy who is in possession of a terrifying secret.
As Kell tracks his man from Moscow to London, he finds himself in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse in which it becomes increasingly difficult to know who is playing whom. As the mission reaches a boiling point, the threat of a catastrophic terrorist attack looms over Britain. Kell is faced with an impossible choice: loyalty to MI6 - or to his own conscience?
©2016 Charles Cumming (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
"We are in Smiley country, but with extra 21st century nuance...Cumming has an exquisite touch and we should treasure him" (Daily Mail)
"A thriller that has everything you could ask for - a twisty, sexy plot, topical themes, memorable characters and plentiful spy lore." (Sunday Times, Books of the Year)
"Refreshing, plausible and effective...Best of all is the sheer pace of the narrative." (Spectator)
"Charles Cumming is a man put on this earth to perpetuate the spy thriller." (Daily Telegraph)
I really liked the first book so then bought the next two on the spot. These two, however, have been a frustrating listen.
The colder war is far too slow. The main storyline takes far too long to get going. To build the romantic aspect, but it's frankly boring and over egged. I felt a man of this age and training wouldn't let it be so consuming. It feels forced and a plot line to lead onto the next book.
What is continually frustrating is the manner in which Kell talks and treats C. I feel the author thought he would get kudos for writing the head of the the secret service as a woman. Then the way he not only talks to her but treats her, a friend and a colleague he apparently has high respect is infuriating. The author with one hand gives us a woman in the highest ranking position and with the other continues to treat her as women have been treated with the world of secret service.
Overall I found myself continually frustrated by the series and will not be returning to the next in line.
This is a very good continuation of the Tom Kell series. By the time you get to this book you are aware of why Tom is a divided, ambivalent character. This books shows a path to his repair, and old fashioned word, redemption.
The series is realistic in that it does not use 'super human' characters and allows for frailties and failure along with an admirable desire to get the job done. Tom is a surprisingly sensitive and thoughtful man and that contrasts satisfyingly with some of the more functionally amoral protagonists one comes across in this kind of literature. The 'double-think' and 'analysis paralysis in such a devious world is convincing and its effect on the characters shows how destructive and exhausting this kind of life must be.
Some themes run through the 3 Kell books: a lot of the characters have surprisingly positive moral limits, there is a theme of patriotism, they drink and smoke a lot and everyone in SIS seems to be able to live in good areas of central London - must be good wages in the spy game!
Excellent narrator with a successful and very believable range of characterisations.
The books are recommended!
Another excellent novel by Charles Cumming; the 3rd in the Thomas Kell series. His most recent novel is relevant to what is happening today. It involves an ISIS terrorist operating in Britain and an old adversary in Russian intelligence. The power play between Kell and the Russian agent is particularly interesting although the main action involves the jihadist. The Russian agent is what you expect from an intelligence agent: patriotic, clinical, crafty and unemotional; Kell by contrast, has a moral compass and is often uncomfortable with intelligence work and its casualties. His reputation and career swings this way and that way. Is he really made of the right stuff ? You will find out towards the end of this novel. The pace of the novel quickens when Kell hunts down Khan. This book is highly recommended. Charles Cumming is the heir apparent to John Le Carre.
My rating: 5/5.
My second Charles Cumming read by Jot Davies. Good story again - gallops along. I will probably get the third one. But wanted to say that the reader's facility with accents is exceptional - moves seamlessly from English (various) to Russian and German. Not just different accents, but imbuing the characters with real personality THROUGH the accents. Most readers just juggle with voices - which is fine. But not Jot Davies. His German and Russian lovers had almost understated accents, which is much more subtle and difficult to do. Bravo!
After the two previous Kell books I found that this one lacked the complexity I had come to expect both from Kell and Cummings alike. Whilst it is still an enjoyable read with some excellent characterisation there was a missing depth to the plot and, to perhaps a lesser extent, the sub plot. In fact, the sub plot and its two central characters, Shahid and Rosie, were the most compelling elements of the book with a more intriguing amd believable narrative.
I kept expecting a twist to the plot because it all seemed just too obvious. I couldn't help feeling that Kell was being deceived but he wasn't. All together it was a bit of a let down which I never thought I would say about a Cummings book.
Absurd storyline; stilted dialogue and totally lacking in subtlety. Made my excuses and left after the first course.
This is a fine book. Cummings is a wonderful writer. Jot Davies narrates it beautifully. This isn't as strong as the first two books in the series - or his Trinity Six book. The first third is a little slow. And if a book of this quality had been the first in the series, I wonder if it would have continued. But it is engaging. And the Kell series is as good as the best spy thrillers out there. This just wasn't as good as books 1 & 2 - in my opinion.
I would not recommend this book to a friend, it was dull, poorly written and badly edited.
No...I think as above. This was a disappointing book, the third in the Thomas Kell series which started off fairly engaging and got progressively more sloppy as they were published. The language used was basic and lazy, one character was described as having a 'vulpine smile' no less than three times and once he was about to break into a 'wolfish grin'. It resembled a huge catalogue of luxury goods coupled with a description of London streets. Product placement appeared to be thrown in for no good reason...who cares if the protagonist drinks Talisker or has an old Vaio computer? These details were of no relevance to the telling or the action of the story. I get the feeling that this is all a padded out version of a tale that if well written and robustly edited would be about half to a third of the length. The dialogue was poor, the descriptions of hotels, foreign 'exotic' locations went drearily on. I understand the author has done his research and visited these places....he doesn't need to give us a street by street account the prove it. Lord...we'll have photos next.I got very fed up with the minutiae of every thought being spelt out, if the dialogue had been crisper we may have been able to work it out ourselves without being spoon fed what to think.
A little more animation, however he was up against a poor vocabulary, a lot of product placement and endless explanations of how this particular action plays out, what it means for various characters and who suspects whom.
No, I only finished it so that I could write a complete and thorough review.
....yeah, yeah, bored with spies that smoke and drink too much and who find their souls are empty and corrupt. Charles Cumming can write great tales, I suggest if you want to read him at his best you stick to 'Trinity Six' and 'Typhoon', this one is not worth bothering with.
Kildonan by the sea
This is the best of the three books for me, because it bring together the personal, the politics and the trade craft in good proportions. it lets you speculate but never lets you see all the motivations as in real life; we mostly see the world through Thomas Kell, with moments of external scenes that inform us of some development.
We have three plots running consecutively one of an infiltrated terrorist, other of the hunt for russian agent for Kell’s personal reasons, and his boss Amelia Levene own interests controlling, a dark but some time helpful force.
Well executed with a real unsensored description of a religious terrorist and not apologetic of his motivations just the facts as they are for that individual and the people that sent him. Same with motivations for the men from the Russian side and Thomas’s confused loyalties and motivations on ours.
I particularly like the fact that all this well trained believers falter when confronted with their own humanity and are vulnerable and doubtful of their demagogue reasons long enough to find their humanity for an instant that permits change.
A good read that is more than just a thriller but also and exploration of our humanity in extreme times.
Very well read by Jot Davies making it a real pleasure.
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