London, 1992. Late one night, Edward Crane, 76, is declared dead at a London hospital. An obituary describes him only as a 'resourceful career diplomat'. But Crane was much more than that - and the circumstances surrounding his death are far from what they seem.
Fifteen years later, academic Sam Gaddis needs money. When a journalist friend asks for his help researching a possible sixth member of the notorious Trinity spy ring, Gaddis knows that she's onto a story that could turn his fortunes around. But within hours the journalist is dead, apparently from a heart attack.
Taking over her investigation, Gaddis trails a man who claims to know the truth about Edward Crane. Europe still echoes with decades of deadly disinformation on both sides of the Iron Curtain. And as Gaddis follows a series of leads across the continent, he approaches a shocking revelation - one which will rock the foundations of politics from London to Moscow
"The dead man was not a dead man. He was alive but he was not alive. That was the situation."
Calvin Somers, the nurse, stopped at the edge of the towpath and looked behind him, back along the canal. He was a slight man, as stubborn and petulant as a child. Gaddis came to a halt beside him.
"Keep talking," he said.
"It was the winter of 1992, an ordinary Monday night in February." Somers took an apple from his coat pocket and bit into it, chewing over the memories. "The patient's name was Edward Crane. It said he was seventy-six on his notes, but none of us knew what was true and what wasn't. He looked midsixties to me." They started walking again, black boots pressing through the mud. "They'd obviously worked out it was best if they admitted him at night, when there were fewer people around, when the day staff had gone off shift."
"Who's 'they'?" Gaddis asked.
"The spooks." A mallard lifted off the canal, quick wings shedding water as he turned towards the sun. "Crane was brought in on ...
Non-British readers are probably less familiar with the main subject of Charles Cumming's spy thriller than those in his home country. Cumming, a notable author of five spy novels to date, grounds his narrative in the legacy of the Cambridge Five, a 1950s spy ring. The Trinity Six fuses the traditional conventions of the spy novel with a twenty-first century setting, coupling a quick read with an interesting part of British and Russian history. The result proves that the spy novel, a genre that some might think to be stuck in the Cold War era, is far from dead.
(Reviewed by Elizabeth Whitmore Funk).
Full Review (875 words).
The Cambridge Five consisted of Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, and John Cairncross, all Cambridge graduates, who made their careers in various British government agencies including the Secret Intelligence Service. They were recruited to work for Stalin's NKVD (the precursor to the KGB) while students at Cambridge in the 1930s by Arnold Deutsch, a Russian talent spotter. Many British students at that time saw the rise of Fascism as dangerous and felt that only the Soviet Union was powerful enough to stand up to the threat. This belief made it relatively easy for the USSR's secret service to recruit select high-flying students from prestigious universities in the hope that they would rise to positions of ...
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