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A Colder War/Charles Cummins

Charles Cummins eptomises the new generation of espionage writers. Himself recruited for MI6 he uses the techniques of surveillance and hacking that he presumably learned and implemented. This novel in the Thomas Kell series is set in modern Turkey. Kell, a MI6 operative in disgraced after an over enthusiastic rendition of an Afghan with CIA man Jim Chater. It is set in Turkey after the killing of their station officer Paull Wallinger. Wallinger is the lover of MI6 boss Amelie Levine and to make matters complicated Kell has an affaire with his daughter Rachel. It’s a racy thriller soon to be a tv series with Colin Firth. Modern day espionage writing has moved a long way from Ian Fleming and Len Deighton. Kell uses mobiles, aliases and tracking on a CIA suspect thought to be working for Russian intelligence. The old polarities of USA and UK v The Soviets are blurry.

As I was travelling quite a bit I decided to read it as an audio book. These have improved as they are no longer abridged. It’s easier than reading the text and you have the well modulated voice of an actor who can do accents too. I see no disadvantages of this method and a boon on air and rail travel.

Cummins has tendency to provide too much detail. He will not just describe Kell going into a restaurant but everything he ordered. Kell’s relationship with Rachel stretches credulity and Cummins’ writing ability . Can M16 v really be full of serial-philanderers? Surely these affaires are against house rules? You do feel it’s written with a film or tv series in mind, more of a script than a novel whereas Le Carre for all the deliberate opaqueness always was true to the novel-writing form.

This is the second Thomas Kell novel I have reviewed and read. I would certainly read another but might choose the earlier The Spanish Game, a novel about the ETA with a different hero Alex Milius.

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About Melanie Gay

A former literary agent with three published novels of her own, Melanie retains her life-long love of the written word and recently mastered the Kindle. She is currently writing a historical novel set in 17th Century Britain and Holland. More Posts