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The Spanish Game: A Novel [Audiobook, CD, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

Charles Cumming , Simon Vance
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 Dec 2008

A vivid and gripping novel from ‘the master of the modern spy thriller’ (Mail on Sunday) which sees Alec Milius coaxed back into the secret world to face the uncontainable danger of 21st century terrorism…

For six years, Alec Milius has escaped the past. In Madrid, he has rebuilt his life, but remains in exile and in danger.

Slightly older, and much wiser, than the young spy who first impressed MI6, he has kept his fatal attraction to secrets. So when a prominent politician mysteriously disappears, Alec is lured back into the spying game.

Only this time he operates without the protection of any official agency – isolated and expendable, with nobody to turn to if things go wrong. And they soon do.

But when Alec is confronted with the nightmare of modern terrorism, he is given one last chance for redemption…

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc; Unabridged edition (15 Dec 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400110424
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400110421
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 2.7 x 13.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,292,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charles Cumming is a British writer of spy fiction. He was educated at Eton College (1985-1989) and the University of Edinburgh (1990-1994), where he graduated with 1st Class Honours in English Literature. The Observer has described him as "the best of the new generation of British spy writers who are taking over where John le Carré and Len Deighton left off".

In 1995, Charles Cumming was approached for recruitment by the United Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). A Spy By Nature, a novel partly based on his experiences with MI6, was published in 2001. The novel's hero, Alec Milius, is a flawed loner in his early 20s who is recruited by MI6 to sell doctored research data on oil exploration in the Caspian Sea to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

In 2001, Charles Cumming moved to Madrid. His second novel, The Hidden Man (2003), tells the story of two brothers investigating the murder of their father, a former SIS officer, at the hands of the Russian mafia. The Hidden Man also examines the clandestine role played by SIS and the CIA during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

Charles Cumming's third novel, The Spanish Game (2006), marks the return of anti-hero Alec Milius, who becomes involved in a plot by the paramilitary Basque nationalist organization ETA to bring down the Spanish government. The Spanish Game was described by The Times as one of the six finest spy novels of all time, alongside Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Funeral in Berlin and The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Typhoon, published in 2008, is a political thriller about a CIA plot to destabilise China on the eve of the Beijing Olympics. The story spans the decade from the transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong in 1997 to present-day Shanghai. In particular, the author highlights the plight of the Uyghur Muslim population in Xinjiang, a semi-autonomous region of The People's Republic of China. The acclaimed novelist William Boyd described Typhoon as "a wholly compelling and sophisticated spy novel - vivid and disturbing - immaculately researched and full of harrowing contemporary relevance."

In March 2008, Charles Cumming published an interactive online story, The 21 Steps, as part of a Penguin We Tell Stories project. Readers follow the protagonist's travels through Google Maps. Cumming's novels have been translated into six languages. His work is published in the United States by St Martin's Press. In 2009, Cumming left Penguin to join Harper Collins. His fifth novel, The Trinity Six, a thriller about the Cambridge spies, will be published in February 2011.

Product Description

Review

'A cracking good spy thriller… the serprentine twists and the unflaggingly realistic suspense leave you breathless, but spellbound’ Daily Mail

'The Man who most successfully gets under the skin of Britain's intelligence agencies' The Times

'From the first page to the last it has the ring of absolute authenticity. Tautly written, cleverly plotted…it reminded me strongly of the early books of John le Carré' Robert Harris, author of Fatherland and The Ghost

'A wholly compelling and sophisticated spy novel – vivid and disturbing – immaculately researched and full of harrowing contemporary relevance' William Boyd, author of Restless

‘Terrific…vividly realised…as strong on emotional literacy as it is on spycraft’ New Statesman

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Charles Cumming was born in Scotland in 1971. He was educated at Eton and graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1994 with First Class Honours in English Literature. The Observer has described him as "the best of the new generation of British spy writers who are taking over where John le Carré and Len Deighton left off". In the summer of 1995, Charles was approached for recruitment by the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). A year later he moved to Montreal where he began working on a novel based on his experiences with MI6. A Spy By Nature was published in the UK in 2001. This is his fifth novel.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Drawer 7 Feb 2006
Format:Hardcover
Was delighted to find out that Alec Milius has returned. Charles Cumming has researched this book superbly and our hero returns a few years older but still paranoid and with the essence of his character still in tact which is refreshing in a sequel. Set in Madrid our hero takes on a foreign city with enthusiasm and too much trust in the wrong people. Alec is caught up with ETA and without giving too much away there are parts that really shake you to the core. This is not for the faint hearted as it has everything you want in a thriller. Intelligently written, well plotted and in true Cumming style a book you will want to tell all your friends about as it will keep you up most of the night. Welcome back Alec Milius.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect 23 Oct 2007
By Donaldo
Format:Paperback
I think this is the strongest novel Charles Cumming has produced to date. He has matured quite a bit since his first novel, A Spy By Nature. It was a good decision to re-visit the main character from the first novel, Alec Milius, who is now in exile in Madrid, working for a British finance company. He fills his time having an affair with his boss's wife, and being paranoid that enemies from his previous life in Britain working for MI5 are still out to get him. His counter-surveillance measures he carries out partly out of necessity, but also partly because he enjoys the secret life, and hasn't been able to let go of it.

The setting in Madrid is good, a refreshing break from the previous two novels set in London. Alec Milius is asked to explore the possibility of his finance company investing in Basque country, and in the course of various meetings, he spends an evening with a former Basque activist and politician. They get on, and agree to meet up at a later date. But on his way to meet Alec, the politician disappears. Suspecting foul play, Alec cannot help himself but investigate, and in doing so, he gets drawn into Basque politics, ETA, and back into the murky world of espionage.

It's not a perfect thriller, but it's an improvement on his first two novels. The plotting is smoother and more effective. Unlike other reviewers, I would argue that ending is not that good - for me it was a contrivance too far. I couldn't fault anything up to that point. This is mostly because Alex Milius is such a convincing, fascinating creation. Charles Cumming makes a passing reference in the novel to The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith, which is a fair comparison. Both Ripley and Milius have tremendous talents, but also the seeds of their own destruction within their character flaws.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily his best book yet 18 Jan 2006
Format:Hardcover
I was a big fan of Charles Cumming's previous two books but The Spanish Game takes him to a different level altogether. The action picks up about six years after the end of A Spy By Nature. Alec Milius, the hero of the first book, has been living all over Europe on the run from the CIA and MI6. Now he's settled in Madrid, is having an affair with his boss's wife, completely paranoid about being followed/arrested, etc. I can't tell you how gripping the book is. From the very first page you're completely pulled into this guy's very weird, paranoid world, but it's totally realistic. Alec gets involved with the Basque terrorist group ETA. Suffice to say there's a torture scene which literally had me sweating. An absoluetly fabulous read, could well be the thriller of 2006.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super book 19 Mar 2006
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
There is a line late on in this book where our hero muses that "my life has become a Rubik's cube which is simply impossible to solve" and certainly there are enough twists and turns in The Spanish Game to make even Dan Brown blink, but this is such an intelligent book that the plot never feels false. And Alec Milius is a great protagonist. He has enough natural talents to get into and out of hair-raising situations in a believable fashion but is suffiently hapless for the reader to identify.
Charles Cumming seems to have a "voice" all of his own (so my reference to Dan Brown wasn't ment to imply any comparison) and if this is what he is writing in just his third book he should have a terrific future. He certainly has the feel of a star in the making.
I believe that Spanish Game marks the end of the "trilogy" and that the author's next book is a stand-alone set in China. I am already eagerly waiting for that one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FRESHNESS ON EVERY PAGE AND PARAGRAPH 28 Feb 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Alex Milius is tall, lonely and obsessed with his past having loused up his earlier career with S.I.S. Living and working now in Spain as a so called investment banker he cannot help himself from being pulled back into the dirty world of spying, which confirms the title of Cumming's first novel 'A SPY BY NATURE' His ability to write a full length spy thriller in the first person present is nothing short of brilliant, but what crowns this masterpiece of modern story telling is the fresh flow of prose on every page. Repetition, so often the bane of lesser writers never once occurs in phrase or expression.
With an intense depth of research, the pages turn themselves effortlessly right up to the finish, leaving the reader slightly breathless and deprived of further enjoyment. Cumming's dedicatees will be deservedly proud of their selection.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars twists and turns right to the end
Leaves you wanting a third instalment of Milius. Gripping read and neatly falling together right at the end. Brilliant !
Published 10 days ago by Rob
1.0 out of 5 stars A boring book on the whole with unbelievable characters
Everything you wanted (and did not) want to know about ETA, GAL and other Basque or Spanish terrorist organizations of totalitarian murderers. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Riviere Jean Luc
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Superb - can't get enough of this author
Published 21 days ago by H de Fanque
4.0 out of 5 stars This is the second book I have read by this author and I think it is...
A new author for me. This is the second book I have read by this author and I think it is better than the previous one in this series " A Spy by Nature" An unusual and... Read more
Published 21 days ago by gaynor simpson
3.0 out of 5 stars 3 1/2 stars . . . clever plotting, uninteresting protagonist
I read this after reading the later "A Foreign Country" and didn't like it quite as much. It's difficult to discuss , because one doesn't want to give away too much of a... Read more
Published 27 days ago by Stanley Crowe
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant book from a spell-binding author.
Published 28 days ago by rafferty
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
A new author for me. A pal recommended it, A great read written at pace and really held my interest.
Published 1 month ago by T. Lazzari
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
again a good read .
Published 1 month ago by michael ganner
4.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating
I love the tradecraft and the "scenario" created and the character descriptions but it can be a bit tiresome that the lead character who is seemingly bright does a lot of... Read more
Published 2 months ago by werdna1030
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
beautifully written and absorbing
Published 2 months ago by Victor Pavey
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