Charles Cumming

A Divided Spy

"...a page-turner of a thriller..."


Thomas Kell thought he was done with spying. A former MI6 officer, he devoted his life to the Service, but all it has left him with is grief and a simmering anger against the Kremlin. Then Kell is offered an unexpected chance at revenge. Taking the law into his own hands, he embarks on a mission to recruit the Russian spy he blames for the murder of his girlfriend.

Kell tracks his nemesis from Kiev to London, but soon finds himself in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse in which it becomes increasingly difficult to know who is playing whom. As the mission reaches boiling point, the threat of a catastrophic terrorist attack looms over Britain. Kell is faced with an impossible choice - loyalty to MI6 - or to his own conscience?

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There are few novelists where, for me, a new novel is an event. Once I know they have a new book due, I'm counting down the days until I can have it in my hands. One such writer is Charles Cumming. Why? He is an author of exceptional talent who thoroughly researches his plots and knows his genre inside out. While most people think of John Le Carré when the spy genre is mentioned, I think of Charles Cumming. 'A Divided Spy' is pure class from the opening page to the final word. Once again Cumming has tapped into the current fear we all have of being caught up in a potential terrorist attack. Throughout the novel we are introduced to Shahid Khan - a radicalised British Muslim who is tasked with launching such an attack on British soil. What Cumming has done is create a character we are supposed to despise but who we actually sympathise with. We see the idealised Islamic living in a frivolous western town and how the two cultures clash. Neither is perfect but then neither are we as people. Once you take away our politics and our faith we are the same with the same desires. This is what Cumming has tapped into and what he has done brilliantly well. This is Cumming's third novel featuring former MI6 operative Thomas Kell and while the ending could be the perfect ending for Kell I hope we see him again in a fourth. He's not a born spy as he's flawed with a conscience but he's human and easy to like. 'A Divided Spy' is a page-turner of a thriller and once you've turned the final page you'll want to go straight back to the beginning and start it again.

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