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79 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Foreign Country -Excellent spy thriller
Spy fiction has an impressive list of luminaries, John Buchan, Erskine Childers, Len Deighton, John Le Carre and so on to which I feel you can add, Charles Cumming.

Tom Kell is an MI6 agent who has left the department under a cloud and finding life tedious, outside the service, is enticed back to working for the department.

The task he is given is no...
Published on 9 April 2012 by Champollion

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quick easy read
Saw this book in Tesco for 1.95 and read the back cover, recommendations and the first page and thought it would be a good 24 hour read. It proved to be just that. Ingredients good especially in the first half. Mixed and cooked well. Characters all right. Up to date on the spy industry issues. After the middle twist in the story it became more run of the mill. Enjoyed...
Published 16 months ago by Alexander Kreator


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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What I did on my holidays, 26 Mar 2014
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This review is from: A Foreign Country (Kindle Edition)
Another novel on a best of list that I took a gamble on and unfortunately, another let-down. This was Thriller of the Year! How? Thrilling is supposed to be the opposite of boring. The slight plot of this turgid book is padded out with long, oh so long, descriptions of travelling from one hotel to another. It reads like the author went on holiday to North Africa and the South of France and noted down every bus stop and every bedside drawer with Gideon bible that he encountered. One line that does ring true is that spying is all about waiting. You will wait until page 300 of this dull, dull book before anything mildly thrilling happens. Yes I know the writer was a spy, just like Ian Flemming, but all similarities end there.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Less complex than usual but a great read, 6 Jun 2012
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This review is from: A Foreign Country (Hardcover)
Compared to the author's previous books, this story was pretty straight forward. The characters were less complex and the ending was relatively predictable from a fair way out. However, the story's basic premise and the way it was told is absolutely top rate. Just the right level of tension and a completely believable set of events. Can't wait until the next one. My favorite author of the last few years.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better and better, 1 Mar 2012
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Elaine Simpson-long (Colchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Foreign Country (Hardcover)
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I have read all of Charles Cumming's books and have enjoyed every single one. I think this is his best one yet and he seems to improve with each title published. I have felt in some of his previous stories that sometimes they lag and slow down, but this one starts slowly and builds up to a really tight exciting finish.

I have to be careful what I say as I don't want to give the plot away. I have done that in the past, inadvertently, and have had quite a few indignant comments on same so I am now more circumspect.

The tagline is 'Britain's chief spy vanishes. One week will make or break M16'. Amelia Levene is due to take up her position as the first female head of M16 when she vanishes. There is no sign of possible defection, no ransom has been demanded and yet she has vanished without a trace. Thomas Kell, a disgraced M16 officer, is pressed back into service and tasked with tracking her down. So off he goes and this is where I love spy thrillers. The intricate details of the 'legend', the back up, the drop zones, the aliases, the tricks of the trade - all totally fascinating.

Kell finds her but all is not as it seems and behind an innocent acquaintance with a handsome companion with whom she appears to be enjoying a holiday, lurks a plot, a possible rogue operation to discredit Amelia and wreck her career. But who could be behind it? A disgruntled person in her past or is it closer to home?

OK so not saying any more or else I will give it all away and I certainly don't want to do tht. As I said, A Foreign Country is a slow burner, it builds and builds, layer upon layer of intrigue, double bluff and double cross culminating in an extremely exciting climax which I could not help but think would make a terrific film.

Tight and pacy narrative and I thoroughly enoyed it. Already looking forward to the next one.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 20 July 2014
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This review is from: A Foreign Country (Kindle Edition)
A good page turner
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars unbelievably awful, 17 Jun 2013
This review is from: A Foreign Country (Paperback)
I was very tempted to give up on this book halfway through, but, since it was a present from my wife, felt obliged to carry on to the predictable end. No intrigue, no tension, shallow characters and a very stupid story line. 'Thriller of the year'? Critics making such misleading claims should be required by law to read the books themselves.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Foreign Country, 1 April 2012
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This review is from: A Foreign Country (Hardcover)
Trinity Six and The Spanish Game are far superior pieces. This latest book by Charles Cummings is well written but episodic and also formulaeic.
It appears to have been wriiten to order, and as one reviewer has already pointed out, it reads like a screen play and it is for that market that I suspect it is intended. As in Trinity Six and The Spanish Game there is much reporting of spycraft and the piece acts like a travelogue for North Africa and southern France, lots of name and place dropping plus a catalogue of the local eateries. As a novel it never really takes off. If you read the dust jacket pitch, it leads you to suspect that this was written in advance of much of the book having been written and then the rest of the tale is just filled out in enough detail to make that pitch a plausable summary of the rest of the tale.

However, in its favour it is well constructed at the page level and makes a thoroughly good read but if you are to believe the "Le Carre" and "Len Deighton" comparisons then much more would be expected. I get the feeling that Charles Cummings is under selling himself at present and being led by the nose by the publishers.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well plotted and credible thriller, 10 Mar 2012
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Mondoro (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Foreign Country (Hardcover)
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A slow burn of a novel, in which the nature of the damaging secret involving the new boss of MI6, Amelia Levene, is revealed quite early, but the nature of the forces ranged against her personally, and by implication, Britain's security interests overseas, remain shadowy. Cumming provides a narrative of a wholly credible operation to avert a humiliating disaster, an operation that lacks the showy derring-do of heroes in the action type of thriller. At the end we sense this is way things would be done: intelligent planning, plenty of back-ups and some intelligent thinking when the unforeseen happens, rather than impulsive and thoughtless action by lone individuals.

The resemblance of Cumming's novels to le Carré is noted in a cover review. Certainly this book occupies a similar universe: a leading character with a failed marriage, an up-to-date situation - in this case, the Arab Spring - and an environment complicated by personal circumstances. Although his writing lacks the same density, he has created some clearly-imagined characters, most notably the contrasted figures of the two French Arabs who carry out the abduction described at the start of the book.
A 4 and 1/2 star novel, but the quality of the writing inclines me to push this up to 5 stars.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Quotidien, 31 Jan 2014
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This review is from: A Foreign Country (Kindle Edition)
Not bad, not particularly good, just another hum-drum thriller with little to set it apart from the crowd. Expect sequels.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another winner from Charles Cumming, 9 July 2012
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This review is from: A Foreign Country (Kindle Edition)
An excellent spy thriller from the author of "The Trinity Six".
The principal protagonist is Thomas Kell, a recently "retired" officer in MI6 who is currently awaiting subpoena as a witness in a prosecution arising from alleged incidents of "extraordinary rendition". He receives a call from one of his former colleagues asking for help tracing the the woman who has been chosen by the powers that be as the next head of MI6, who seems to have disappeared while on a holiday visit to the south of France.
Having nothing better to do, Kell decides to help, flying down to Nice to try to pick up her trail. Cumming gives a fascinating insight into low level spycraft, all of which will certainly lead me to change my own habits when staying in a hotel!
The novel has constant twists and turns, but never loses its basic plausibility. It did, however, keep taking me by surprise, and I found it an immensely enjoyable read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHAT A LOVELY COMMAND OF ENGLISH, 12 April 2012
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Charles Ranald (Nr. Alresford, Hampshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Foreign Country (Hardcover)
I have read all six of Charles Cumming's novels and in my view five of them have merited five stars. A FOREIGN COUNTRY is right up to date and might be likened to an IT buff's written James Bond. He writes so well that there isn't a single annoying repetitive phrase throughout the novel, which is an exciting travelogue of English countryside to North Africa, stopping off in France to set the narrative. As a slow reader I actually finished it well within a week and was continually looking for an opportunity in the day to turn a few more pages. At one stage the stage was filled with so many characters that it resembled the Keystone Cops. No matter - it is a great read and I can't wait for the next Cumming spy thriller.Forgotten Diamond
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A Foreign Country
A Foreign Country by Charles Cumming (Paperback - 28 Mar 2013)
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