Charles Cumming

Box 88

"...a worthy successor to le Carré’s throne."


1989: The fall of the Berlin Wall is imminent, and the Cold War will soon be over. But for BOX 88, a top secret spying agency known only to an inner circle of MI6 and CIA operatives, the espionage is heating up.

Lachlan Kite, recruited straight from an elite boarding school, is sent to France – the frontline of a new secret war. Kite is tasked with gathering intelligence on a mysterious Iranian businessman implicated in the tragic Lockerbie bombing. But what he uncovers is even more deadly.

2020: MI5 hear rumours of BOX 88's existence and go after Kite – only for Iranian intelligence to get to him first. Taken captive and subjected to torture, Kite is presented with a simple choice: reveal the truth about what happened in France thirty years earlier – or watch his family die.

Past and present merge, as MI5 and BOX 88 are caught up in a race against time to save Kite.

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The master of the modern day spy thriller is back with an exciting new series featuring an elite group of spies known to no-one. 'BOX 88' begins with a heart-rending chapter about a family boarding Pan Am flight 103 in London to go to New York. It never reaches its destination as it explodes over the small Scottish town of Lockerbie killing everyone on board. The scene is set for a dark and terrifying story that is thirty years in the making. Cumming takes us on a journey of Kite's life from his induction into BOX 88, his first task which will change his life, and its aftermath, including his kidnapping in present day London. Although we get to know how Kite became a spy, his own doubts and paranoias into who is watching who, we don't fully get to know the real Kite. As readers we don't know the truth of what goes on within MI5 and the CIA, does anyone, but how much of Kite's own life has he suppressed in the past thirty years in order to become the best of the best? This is where Cumming is the master of the spy novel. Through his elegant prose, he is drip-feeding us details of the protagonist, but we know there is much more to come; there is more danger on the horizon and it's that sense of uncertainty that makes 'BOX 88' a cracking, intelligent and fast-paced read. There is a danger with spy stories for the main character to be given all the glory and coverage and the supporting players to be mere two-dimensional. Cumming's is too much of a professional to give in to such cliché and every character is suitably developed. We fear for Isobel as she's held hostage, wish happiness for Kite and Martha in the budding romance, sympathise with Xavier and his problems and yell out at the page when a particular character is killed off.

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