Summary and book reviews of A Colder War by Charles Cumming

A Colder War

by Charles Cumming

A Colder War by Charles Cumming X
A Colder War by Charles Cumming
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2014, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2015, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

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Book Summary

Cumming returns with MI6 agent Tom Kell (A Foreign Country), in a tour de force that will dazzle readers and critics alike.

A top-ranking Iranian military official is blown up while trying to defect to the West. An investigative journalist is arrested and imprisoned for writing an article critical of the Turkish government. An Iranian nuclear scientist is assassinated on the streets of Tehran. These three incidents, seemingly unrelated, have one crucial link. Each of the three had been recently recruited by Western intelligence, before being removed or killed.

Then Paul Wallinger, MI6's most senior agent in Turkey, dies in a puzzling plane crash. Fearing the worst, MI6 bypasses the usual protocol and brings disgraced agent Tom Kell in from the cold to investigate. Kell soon discovers what Wallinger had already begun to suspect - that there's a mole somewhere in the Western intelligence, a traitor who has been systematically sabotaging scores of joint intelligence operations in the Middle East.

1

The American stepped away from the open window, passed Wallinger the binoculars, and said: "I'm going for cigarettes."

"Take your time," Wallinger replied.

It was just before six o'clock on a quiet, dusty evening in March, no more than an hour until nightfall. Wallinger trained the binoculars on the mountains and brought the abandoned palace at Ishak Pasa into focus. Squeezing the glasses together with a tiny adjustment of his hands, he found the mountain road and traced it west to the outskirts of Dogubayazit. The road was deserted. The last of the tourist taxis had returned to town. There were no tanks patrolling the plain, no dolmus bearing passengers back from the mountains.

Wallinger heard the door clunk shut behind him and looked back into the room. Landau had left his sunglasses on the farthest of the three beds. Wallinger crossed to the chest of drawers and checked the screen on his BlackBerry. Still no word from Istanbul; still no word from London. Where the hell was ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Cumming writes about spies with an acid-burnt edge of short, staccato chapters that spill information piecemeal on a need-to-know basis and build in true espionage fashion to a teeth-rattling implosion. Cold. So cold indeed. Scary cold.   (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

Full Review (574 words).

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Media Reviews

The Independent (UK)
The levels of psychological insight are married to genuine narrative acumen - but anyone who has read his earlier books will expect no less.

The Sunday Times (UK)
For those hungering for a new John le Carre, Charles Cumming has inherited the master's mantle. His new book, < i>A Colder War, features sinister goings-on in spook-infested Istanbul.

Kirkus Reviews
Obviously this is Cold War fare, but what the "colderwar" of the title is colder than is unclear. Colder than the McCarthy era? Colder than the Cuban missile crisis? Nah.Not a bad story, but it probably won't leave readers breathless. Spy-vs.-spy fans might give it a try.

Publishers Weekly
The novel's conclusion will have spy fiction aficionados eagerly awaiting the next installment.

Library Journal
Edgily elegant ... perfect for those wanting a contemporary spy thriller in the vein of Le Carre and even for those who don't

Booklist
Starred Review. Superb espionage fiction in the grand tradition.

Reader Reviews

Sbpark

Great story
Kept my attention throughout with fast paced story and good writing.

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Beyond the Book

Diving into the Spy's Psyche

Top SecretInasmuch as most of the spies that have been interviewed, researched, quantified and statistically charted are those that have been caught, perhaps the psyche of a good spy is as elusive as spies themselves. Not to mention the fact that a "good spy" is not so easily defined. There are many types of spies and many reasons for becoming one. In a 2012 article in the Daily Beast, Dr. Ursula M. Wilder, a clinical psychologist with 16 years of Federal service in the Intelligence Community, said:

"Intelligence officers who handle espionage sources - variously called informants, assets, or agents, to distinguish them from the professionals - and the psychologists they consult with study the motives of agents closely. These motivations are ...

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