A colder war

Charles Cumming, 1971-

Book - 2014

"A top-ranking Iranian military official is blown up while trying to defect to the West. An investigative journalist is arrested and imprisoned for writing an article critical of the Turkish government. An Iranian nuclear scientist is assassinated on the streets of Tehran. These three incidents, seemingly unrelated, have one crucial link. Each of the three had been recently recruited by Western intelligence, before being removed or killed. Then Paul Wallinger, MI6's most senior agent ...in Turkey, dies in a puzzling plane crash. Fearing the worst, MI6 bypasses the usual protocol and brings disgraced agent Tom Kell in from the cold to investigate. Kell soon discovers what Wallinger had already begun to suspect--that there's a mole somewhere in the Western intelligence, a traitor who has been systematically sabotaging scores of joint intelligence operations in the Middle East."--

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Subjects
Genres
Spy stories
Suspense fiction
Published
New York : St. Martin's Press 2014.
Edition
First U.S. edition
Language
English
Physical Description
388 pages ; 25 cm
ISBN
9781250020611
1250020611
Main Author
Charles Cumming, 1971- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Over several novels, Cumming has established himself, along with Olen Steinhauer, as one of the best of today's old-school espionage novelists. His latest, a follow-up to A Foreign Country (2012), finds disgraced agent Tom Kell still out in the cold after being scapegoated in the wake of a torture scandal. That changes quickly when his former colleague, Amanda Levene, now head of MI6, drafts Kell to find out whether the airplane crash that killed her lover, Paul Wallinger, head of station in Turkey, was an accident or the work of a suspected mole. Or moles—Wallinger himself may have been a traitor driven to suicide. We're in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy territory here, of course, but there are also hints of later le Carré, as Kell falls in love with Rachel Wallinger, Paul's daughter, and quickly finds himself in that treacherous demilitarized zone between the personal and the political. Cumming is a master at describing the details of spy tradecraft, from electronic wizardry to tailing a suspect on the street, and one of the great pleasures of this novel is watching Kell and his team do their work. But is the price of doing that work—and living the clandestine life it requires—too high? Are ideals as deadly as bombs? Those are the fundamental questions of the spy novel, and Cumming asks them with great eloquence, revealing a contemporary twist or two in the way his characters frame their uncertain answers, but coming round in the end to the abiding melancholy that still shrouds all but the most heartless of spies. Superb espionage fiction in the grand tradition. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Here's another in New York Times best-selling Cumming's edgily elegant works, perfect for those wanting a contemporary spy thriller in the vein of le Carré and even for those who don't. In the second Thomas Kell book, three recent recruits by Western intelligence—a military official and a nuclear scientist from Iran, plus a journalist critical of Turkey's government—all meet unfortunate fates. Then MI6's veteran agent in Turkey perishes in a mysterious plane crash, and disgraced agent Tom Kell is pulled back in the fold to dig out the mole evidently buried somewhere. [Page 94]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Cumming's second Tom Kell thriller (after A Foreign Country) is a complicated puzzle of a book, in which colleagues might be enemies and lovers may be spies. Kell is called back into action by MI6 chief Amelia Levene to investigate a plane crash that killed MI6's station head for Turkey. Wishing to redeem himself after he was made the fall guy for a mission gone wrong in Afghanistan, Kell is a complicated and all-too-human spy. He is sometimes resentful of his status as a disgraced agent, often distracted by his personal life, and liable to drink a little too much. The globe-trotting action takes us to London, Greece, Turkey, Croatia, and Ukraine, as Kell and his team follow bad hunches, good leads, and wily spies to unravel the mystery of the station head's death and reveal the identity of the mole who sabotaged a number of covert operations. VERDICT This fast-paced thriller is full of twists, turns, and surprises. With well-developed, complex characters and plenty of details about spycraft, it's a perfect summer read for fans of Stella Rimington and John le Carré. [See Prepub Alert, 2/24/14.]—Terry Lucas, Rogers Memorial Lib., Southampton, NY [Page 80]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In present-day Turkey, disgraced agent Tom Kell is brought back into the fold when the female head of British Intelligence recruits him to find a mole suspected of engineering a plane crash that killed her lover. Cumming is considered one of the foremost spy novelists writing today, and this book shows why. (LJ 7/1/14) [Page 37]. (c) Copyright 2015 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Cumming's intricate sequel to 2012's A Foreign Country finds British operative Thomas Kell, who's been indefinitely suspended from the SIS, reevaluating his life between pints of pale ale at a London pub. But when the call comes from "C"— SIS's first female chief, Amelia Levene—Kell is back in the game, tasked with unraveling the mystery surrounding the suspicious death of Paul Wallinger, an SIS agent stationed in Turkey who happened to be C's former lover. The death, coupled with the murders of a growing number of "assets" throughout the region and the failure of numerous joint operations between SIS and the CIA, point to a mole inside western intelligence whose existence threatens every SIS operation—and operative—in the Middle East. It's hard not to root for a character like Kell—deeply cynical but still very much an idealist—and the bombshell plot twists toward the novel's conclusion will have spy fiction aficionados eagerly awaiting the next installment. Agent: Luke Janklow, Janklow & Nesbit. (Aug.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"A top-ranking Iranian military official is blown up while trying to defect to the West. An investigative journalist is arrested and imprisoned for writing an article critical of the Turkish government. An Iranian nuclear scientist is assassinated on thestreets of Tehran. These three incidents, seemingly unrelated, have one crucial link. Each of the three had been recently recruited by Western intelligence, before being removed or killed. Then Paul Wallinger, MI6's most senior agent in Turkey, dies in a puzzling plane crash. Fearing the worst, MI6 bypasses the usual protocol and brings disgraced agent Tom Kell in from the cold to investigate. Kell soon discovers what Wallinger had already begun to suspect--that there's a mole somewhere in the Western intelligence, a traitor who has been systematically sabotaging scores of joint intelligence operations in the Middle East. "--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Disgraced MI6 agent Thomas Kell is assigned to investigate the murders of an Iranian defector, an investigative journalist and an Iranian nuclear scientist who had been recently recruited by Western intelligence, a case that is further complicated by a senior agent's suspicious death. By the best-selling author of A Foreign Country.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Disgraced MI6 agent Thomas Kell is assigned to investigate the murders of an Iranian defector, an investigative journalist, and an Iranian nuclear scientist who had been recently recruited by Western intelligence, a case that is further complicated by a senior agent's suspicious death.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Internationally acclaimed as "a premier writer of espionage thrillers" (USA Today), Charles Cumming is "among the most skillful spy novelists" (Washington Post) and "a worthy successor to the masters…like John le Carré and Len Deighton" (Chicago Sun-Times). Now, with A COLDER WAR, Cumming returns with MI6 agent Tom Kell (A Foreign Country), in a tour de force that will dazzle readers and critics alike. A top-ranking Iranian military official is blown up while trying to defect to the West. An investigative journalist is arrested and imprisoned for writing an article critical of the Turkish government. An Iranian nuclear scientist is assassinated on the streets of Tehran. These three incidents, seemingly unrelated, have one crucial link. Each of the three had been recently recruited by Western intelligence, before being removed or killed. Then Paul Wallinger, MI6's most senior agent in Turkey, dies in a puzzling plane crash. Fearing the worst, MI6 bypasses the usual protocol and brings disgraced agent Tom Kell in from the cold to investigate. Kell soon discovers what Wallinger had already begun to suspect—that there's a mole somewhere in the Western intelligence, a traitor who has been systematically sabotaging scores of joint intelligence operations in the Middle East.