Summary and book reviews of The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming

The Trinity Six

by Charles Cumming

The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming X
The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2011, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2012, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Elizabeth Whitmore Funk
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Book Summary

The most closely-guarded secret of the Cold War is about to be exposed – the identity of a SIXTH member of the infamous Cambridge spy ring. And people are killing for it…

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…

1

"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 ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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...continued

Full Review (557 words).

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(Reviewed by Elizabeth Whitmore Funk).

Media Reviews

Library Journal
His plotting and his language are powerfully engaging... Spy fiction fans will enjoy the ingenious plot with well-developed characters, a keen sense of time and place, an undercurrent of fear, and plenty of gore.

The Washington Post - Patrick Anderson
With this novel, Cumming joins Alan Furst, David Ignatius and Olen Steinhauer among the most skillful current spy novelists, and he bears comparison with masters such as John le Carre and Graham Greene. ...The Trinity Six is superior fiction, but it isn't a psychological study. It's a sophisticated thriller that takes its spies at face value and focuses on a conventional hero, a likable, stubborn and rather naive man, who is trying to survive in a world of duplicity and danger.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Cumming's knowledge of the spy business, his well-crafted prose, and his intensely engaging plot make this a breakthrough novel.

Booklist
Starred Review. Cumming's plot is appropriately convoluted, and the convolutions drive the narrative.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Cumming's novel is characterized by a gripping sense of realism... absolutely gripping. Taut, atmospheric and immersive - an instant classic.

Author Blurb William Boyd
Utterly absorbing and compelling. A brilliant re-imagining of events surrounding the notorious Cambridge spy-ring.

Reader Reviews

Xavier Huntley

xMANS Review
This book was the beastyest book I have read so far my entire life. This book ROCKS! :)

Kristine L. (The Woodlands, TX)

Trinity Six
I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters were excellent and I wish to see more of Charlotte in other books if possible. Honestly, the book kept me guessing as well as led me down a believable path of intrigue. Keep them coming!

Sandy P. (Gainesville, FL)

Quite exceptional
I liked the fact that historical figures were employed in a work of fiction. Being old enough to remember the Philby "Sex for Secrets" scandal made this book extremely interesting. There are quite a few characters (I kept a roster) but they are ...   Read More

Cynthia C. (Peekskill, NY)

Trinity Six
Charles Cumming puts a new spin on the well-known, and real-life, spy ring of Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, Donald Maclean & John Cairncross. Known as the Cambridge Five, they were recruited by the Soviet Union while at Trinity College at ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Cambridge Five

Kim PhilbyThe 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. Guy BurgessThey 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. Donald MacleanThis 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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