Foreign country

Charles Cumming's A foreign country is a cracking contemporary espionage novel. MI6 is just about to appoint its first female head; but a well-kept secret from her past in North Africa may ruin her chances of advancement, but is the secret quite what he seems? Thomas Kell, a forcibly  retired spy is called in from the cold to save the day.

Billed as a successor to Frederick Forsyth and John le Carre, Charles Cumming's stylish thriller really packs a punch. It's easy to see why he has been compared to Forsyth and Le Carre, he combines the action of Forsyth with the shady, world weariness of earlier Le Carre. He isn't as good as Le Carre, although like the better known author Cumming has also spent some time with MI6, but there is much to enjoy in this contemporary thriller.

It's a clever tale. The central characters are well drawn, and Cumming is adept (as was Le Carre) at dealing with the more unpalatable work that spies are expected to do. This may mean that occasionally (depending on your political views) you are either going to be completely in sympathy with Cumming's characters, or will be less than happy. Thankfully these areas are touched on reasonably lightly, and most of the story is a fairly gung-ho adventure tale, which anyone who likes a good thriller should thoroughly enjoy.

There's a fair bit of back-story, but Cumming makes sure that readers don't get lost in its threads; and I, for one, would very much like to read more in the series. Oddly enough, in spite of the substantial back story, this is actually the first in a series of novels about Thomas Kell. It's the best contemporary thriller I've read in some time, and I'm looking forward to reading more in the series.


Lacey Smith said…
Sounds fantastic, I love mystery/thriller type reads and this sounds right up my alley! Every other month my best friend and I take turns picking a book for each other to read and the last one she recommended to me was “Publics: Libertas Aut Mors” by Baltazar Bolado,, I could hardly put it down and I highly recommend it! I think I'll be checking out "A Foreign Country" next! Thanks for the recommendation!
Missy Jacobs said…
Lacey that book sounds great! I was checking it out on Amazon though and just wanted to let you know that the correct title is “Publius: Libertas Aut Mors”; just an FYI because it took me a few tries to find it. Going to pick it up for sure! A Foreign Country sounds good too, will have to check them both out.

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