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A Foreign Country (Thomas Kell) Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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Amelia Levene and Thomas Kell, once colleagues as MI6 field agents, have seen their careers move in opposite directions. Amelia is about to become the first woman to head the agency, leapfrogging ambitious—but less talented—male bureaucrats. Kell has been forced into retirement, scapegoated by those same bureaucrats in the wake of revelations and uproar about torture. Kell is recalled because Amelia abruptly takes a week’s leave in the south of France and, even more abruptly, disappears into thin air. Kell’s job is to find her. This plot synopsis is mere prelude. Cumming, once recruited to MI6, has fashioned a gripping story of conspiracy, the Arab Spring, MI6 politics, maternal love, and a man with a “talent for the clandestine.” Amelia and Kell are complex, engaging characters, and Kell’s tradecraft will delight espionage lovers. The conspiracy might strain credulity a bit, but stranger things have happened in the Great Game, and Cumming’s track record (The Trinity Six, 2011) ensures demand for this one. --Thomas Gaughan --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
“Jot Davies's narration ushers you in; his voice is a steady presence through the disparate events from the beginning to the satisfying conclusion…Davies's pacing fits the narrative, quickening as tension increases, mechanical as an extraction team pursues its deadly work, wistful or angry as the protagonist's situation demands. You'll find yourself wishing this story would continue just a while longer.” ―AudioFile Magazine
“Faultlessly performed by Jot Davies.” ―BookPage
“Narrator Jot Davies's crisp, stiff-upper-lift performance perfectly captures Thomas Kell, a former British agent who was unceremoniously dismissed from MI6…Davis's characterizations are subtle but effective: a slightly softer delivery for females, and understated accent for French characters. His rendition of Amanda captures the character's sophisticated haughtiness, as well as her self-doubt, while his Kell remains unflappably British in his quest for answers and redemption.” ―Publishers Weekly
“[Jot Davies's] versatility provides outstanding tone and nuance to the story's varied cast of characters.” ―The Star-Ledger
Top customer reviews
Whether Thomas does or does not find her, only the reader of A Foreign Country, the 2012 espionage novel by Charles Cumming, should discover. The journey to the discovery, however, is lined with danger and intrigue. When the reader feels, they understand the direction of this novel is taking, they will be shocked when it doesn’t.
Having only recently discovered the novels of author Cumming, this reader is reading his work in reverse and very pleased with the growing collection of this author on his library shelves.
Not sure if I'll check into other books by Cummings after having read the teaser at then of this book because I cannot get that interested in the flawed protagonist enough to want to go through his angst again.
Spying is also watching. In A Foreign Country by Charles Cumming I was struck by how often a character was prepared to take chances based upon an intuitive observation and risk. The framework for a plan or mission is laid out and preparation and espionage is used to gather intelligence and inform the asset, as you would imagine.
These are all the machinations and networks that lay the pathway or entrance point for characters to find themselves with huge responsibilities concerning national and personal security.
After that, though, they are reliant upon their wits and psychological knowledge of human behaviour and the weight of probability when it comes to how people are motivated.
I found this aspect of the novel to be simultaneously fascinating and nerve-wracking!
The novel begins with a mysterious disappearance and gruesome murder which, at first, seem unconnected, but as we progress the intimate becomes international and the cost of a wrong decision is always something that might escalate from a lone death into a potential war.
Structurally, the novel moves us through various viewpoints of the events and, for me, this worked very well: the pacing of this decision meant that I was always compelled to read further than I had initially intended and the way this opened up new angles and points of view meant that the story kept tightening in terms of potential consequence, yet kept expanding, as I have mentioned, in how the possible repercussions might catch up on characters.
The way the author uses this to sometimes allow the reader to see a potential hazard and still balance that against a predicament in the plot creates great suspense.
Along with le Carre’s A Delicate Truth and Hector Macdonald’s Rogue Elements, this was in my top three novels of 2014.
Are the plot and character actions in this book "realistic"? I have no idea, since spy organizations are so prone to duplicitous behavior that it's impossible to keep track of what's real and what isn't. But this is a rollicking good story, replete with all types of characters - those you'd like to know personally, and those you'd hope never to meet up with. But those characters aren't all midnight black or snow white. Some good guys do bad things, and at least one of the black hats shows elements of humanitarian feelings.
I was surprised that the contemporary Brit and French secret services could exhibit such belligerent behavior toward one another, but the the frogs and shop keepers have been at each other's throats for hundreds (thousands?) of years, notwithstanding the brief (?) era of détente during the twentieth century. Maybe this is the way spy organizations operate, i.e., let's be friends on the surface, but keep the powder dry and the activities wet. And of course we have our own example now of how spying works, with the NSA tracking every last detail of Angela Merkle's life.
While Cumming the Brit likes to tweak the CIA, in this book he admits that MI6 has its own share of incompetence and dirty linen. Working for any country's secret service would be last on my list of desirable occupations, even below being a Congressperson in today's climate, but "A Foreign Country" makes me wonder how any such service can possibly find recruits, given the unremitting life of secrecy, lies, and danger. Can't tell your family what you do, can't tell if your boss is leveling with you, can't guarantee that you won't be murdered at a moment's notice. Although "A Foreign Country" has no more than the minimum daily requirement of espionage violence, even that much is over the top. But it's balanced by the frequent non-violent interactions of the characters, with the threat of violence and/or bad consequences hanging ubiquitously in the air.
Most recent customer reviews
"A Foreign Country" is well-written. It's marvelously atmospheric.Read more