Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
A Colder War: A Novel (Thomas Kell) Hardcover – August 5, 2014
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
*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. --Bill Ott
“Cumming has a growing reputation as the heir to the John Le Carré tradition in British fiction.” ―Alan Cheuse, NPR
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Someone is leaking secrets in the Bosporus. There are several targets, and each one is looked at with great rigor. A fellow colleague has been killed in a plane crash, and it is up to Kell to find the reason. Somewhere between, London, Turkey, and Russia, there is a double agent. Along the way, a lot of good sleuthing and spy work. Kell has his choice of the best spies, and he once again meets up with an old antagonist and meets a new one. The environments in each of these countries is explored within the boundaries of work and play, and we are there. We can smell the sea, observe the night clubs and the restaurants. Harrods comes alive in London, the secret offices and houses of MI6, their offices in other countries, the secret phone rooms, the tea, the whiskey, the food, all lead us to an extremely well run organization. We meet the SVR, Russian secret agents, CIA, observe their methods of clandestine work. And, most of all, we get to know Kell, who is almost as secretive as Amelia, the woman he works for.
Such a well written novel, and you cannot guess how 'things' will work out because new problems and people pop up right until the end.
Recommended. prisrob 02-10-17
OK, it’s officially an English spy novel now.
Kell is suddenly called back into service. A longtime friend and associate dies under dubious circumstances. The friend, Paul Wallinger, head of MI-6’s Ankara office, was the longtime lover of new MI-6 director Amanda Levene, who has been close to Kell over the years but distant during his months in purgatory.
Now Levene wants him to investigate, because he’s one of the few that knew of the love affair.
And there’s more. (Of course.) Wallinger and Levene were among the very few who knew a mole had been discovered – British or American, it isn’t clear, but highly placed enough to have already caused blown missions and lost lives.
The plot thickens as Wallinger, a noted womanizer, is found to have been involved with another woman, one with ties to East European intelligence. Was he actually the mole? Was he caught in the proverbial honey trap and blackmailed?
Kell shakes off the cobwebs and goes to Turkey, a fine setting for espionage novels since the days of the Orient Express, to investigate. Along the way he meets Wallinger’s grown daughter Rachel – enchanting, delightful, but highly distrustful of spies like her father, who so hurt her mother with his serial infidelities. The investigation into Wallinger’s death intertwines with the mole hunt to create a subtle but steadily moving plot. Kell finds his skills haven't left, but meanwhile his growing feelings for Rachel and his questions about what she, and also Levene, aren't telling him, threatens to cloud his judgment.
The title and story remind us that tensions between the West and Russia haven’t necessarily eased just because the Cold War is over. (In the 19th century, it was the Great Game between Russia and other imperial powers like Britain for dominance in Asia. In the late 20th century, it was the Cold War. We need a new name for today’s struggles.)
I don’t like everything about this book. Cumming, through Kell’s eyes, disparages the U.S. (arrogant cowboys!) and Israel (totally unprincipled spies!) too much for me. To his credit, though, he ultimately finds the traitor to have been motivated by the same animosities, showing where such cultural and political self-hatred can lead.
The ending suggests we haven't heard the last in the Kell series. I'll read the sequel.