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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging...
After a slow and at times confusing narrative in the opening chapters, Cumming starts to work his way through the gears in this engaging espionage thriller and the pace begins to pick up. About half-way through, the book just takes off - an astonishing burst of acceleration, as if it's suddenly writing itself (everything an author prays for). In brief, this is the story...
Published on 3 Aug 2011 by Boot-Boy

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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK if you have got a cold
This is a good enough read for a plane journey or if you are stuck at home with a cold, but, unlike the hype, it is certainly not John Le Carre Mark 2. It follows the fairly classic thriller pattern of an 'ordinary man' caught up in a web of intrigue (I suppose the archetype is John Buchan's 39 Steps) and like most such books that means that the initial set-up strains the...
Published on 20 Feb 2011 by Arturo


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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging..., 3 Aug 2011
By 
Boot-Boy (Gloucestershire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Trinity Six (Hardcover)
After a slow and at times confusing narrative in the opening chapters, Cumming starts to work his way through the gears in this engaging espionage thriller and the pace begins to pick up. About half-way through, the book just takes off - an astonishing burst of acceleration, as if it's suddenly writing itself (everything an author prays for). In brief, this is the story of a forty-something academic called Sam Gaddis who's in need of a lucrative publishing contract (loans, mortgage, messy divorce) and finds one of the intelligence world's best-kept secrets falling into his lap. There's nothing more potentially entertaining than an innocent stumbling around in the rarefied echelons of the intelligence community, and the author plays this card particularly well. Gaddis is a charming everyman and absolutely credible as the bumbling academic who finds himself caught up in a viper's nest of intrigue. This is a first-class read - sometimes a little laboured, sometimes a little too detailed - but stay with it and you're set for a dazzling ride. Comparisons are always made in these kinds of cold-war espionage thrillers by giving a nod to Deighton, Le Carré et al. In this case such comparisons are redundant. This writer is in a class of his own and getting better with every book.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK if you have got a cold, 20 Feb 2011
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This review is from: The Trinity Six (Hardcover)
This is a good enough read for a plane journey or if you are stuck at home with a cold, but, unlike the hype, it is certainly not John Le Carre Mark 2. It follows the fairly classic thriller pattern of an 'ordinary man' caught up in a web of intrigue (I suppose the archetype is John Buchan's 39 Steps) and like most such books that means that the initial set-up strains the credulity, rather. In this case the coincidence of Sam simultaneously being told by a journalist friend that she has unearthed details of the 'Sixth Man' and by a fan of his history books that she wants him to look at her late mother's papers about the KGB seems a bit unlikely. Also, I was not persuaded by Sam's motivation that he needs to pay an unexpected tax bill. How many academics, taxed on their normal salary but presumably paying further tax on the royalties from his academic writing, unknowingly rack up a 20K tax bill? That suggests astrononomical sales of such writing. Likewise, the assumption that if needs be he can knock out a besteller to raise some cash seems a bit unlikely. But it is necessary to the plot since otherwise Sam's willingness to get involved in the whole thing would be inexplicable.

Anyway, once these contortions have been made, the plot begins to rattle along with a fairly stock set of characters (maverick MI6 boss, menacing Russian hoods, trips to Berlin, Vienna and Budapest and so on) and there's enough suspense to keep you turning the pages. Characterization is a bit thin and some pieces of plotting don't seem to go anywhere (what was all the business about the watch smuggled from Budapest meant to be about?). So there is enough to pass your time, but it isn't a book that you would re-read.

There is also an enormous howler in that the author uses Trinity College, Cambridge and Trinity Hall, Cambridge interchangeably - which for a book entitled The Trinity Six seems particularly careless.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended!, 10 Dec 2010
By 
Jeff "roadrunner" (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Trinity Six (Hardcover)
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There's a line fairly late on in this novel that goes - "** was a member of the new generation of twenty-first century spies: post-Cold War, post 9/11, post-ideological, whose attachment to the old ways was by no means an article of faith." You might add to that 'post Le Carre' as well for that's how the book came across to me. It's a novel that reflects the kiss and tell of recent years where the secret agencies are concerned. Do you take your secrets with you to the grave and if you don't intend to, will someone try to kill you first in order to prevent it? That's what this novel is basically about and I found it highly engaging. It's well-written and easy to follow without being in any way patronising to the 'ordinary' reader. I speak as one who always found Le Carre rather obtuse. I well remember 'The Honourable Schoolboy' when it came out years ago and finding it like wading through treacle. Cumming writes clearly, tells his story with just the right pace and has thoroughly credible characters. It's based largely in present day London but there are forays to those good old hotbeds of old espionage - Vienna and Budapest. Made me wonder about ever switching my mobile on again but at the end there's a neat twist which suggests that the old ways aren't totally forgotten. Do read it. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cold War legacy, 24 July 2011
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Trinity Six (Hardcover)
In an intricate plot, circles within circles, this revisits the Cambridge spies (Burgess, Maclean et al.) and posits a sixth - who is still alive. Russian academic historian, Sam Gaddis, is handed some secret papers and is soon on a covert trail around Europe, tracked by MI6 and the FSB, both determined that their secrets will remain hidden.

This is an entertaining read, though it feels like a book of two halves. The first half, for me, seemed more plausible and interesting as Gaddis follows his few clues, both personal and archival. The second half where the university lecturer gets pitched against the professionals started wandering into more implausible territory, I thought.

Comparisons have been made with Le Carré, not wholly justified in my view. Yes, this is set in a similar world, but it lacks the moral gravitas of Le Carré's vision. So this is an enjoyable read, more gripping in some parts than others, but generally classier than some of the more throwaway pulp spy thrillers out there.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling, 5 May 2011
By 
Michael Watson "skirrow22" (Halifax, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Trinity Six (Hardcover)
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If, like me, you were brought up on Len Deighton and John Le Carre, then this excellent story of espionage is a must.

Dr.Sam Gaddis is not a spy but an academic suddenly finding himself with a possible story to investigate helping him to cover his excessive debts.

In pursuing what turns out to be the identity of the sixth member of the Trinity spy ring, he manages, just, to outwit the efforts of the Russian FSB, thinly disguised as the KGB and the mandarins at the British SIS.

He does need, of course, a bit of luck and a couple of friendly faces but this is a well crafted espionage story, built on the back of the cold war era, bringing the adventure up to date as the new potential Russian President appears to have a murky past. Well, no surprise there then but the author tells the story well and leaves the reader wondering just what lies behind the facade of today's Russian (and maybe, British) incumbents.

Thankfully, there are no Americans in this tale to spoil the party. It's an all British affair and an exciting read to the end. This is the author's fifth book and he is certainly a man to watch and maybe catch up on his four previous novels.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The thinking man's spooks, 24 Mar 2011
By 
David Craggs (CT USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Trinity Six (Hardcover)
I adored Typhoon and approached this with anticipation and trepidation. Would Cumming maintain the standard having set the bar so high?
I neadn't have worried, with 'The Cambridge Six' he knocks one right out of the park but does it differently. His previous novels have been about professional spies, even if some were debutaunts. This time around, we have an intelligent amateur as the principle protagonist and there is a strong 'Buchanesque' feel to the story as our hero searches for the truth and seaks to do the right thing.
I loved it to bits. It thrills, entertains and informs in equal portion and cements Charles Cumming as our top thriller writer. Brilliant, can't wait for his next outing!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but not great, 15 Feb 2012
By 
Tim62 "history buff" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Trinity Six (Paperback)
This is one of those spy thrillers that you will read on the beach and then happily leave behind. I enjoyed the read but can't say much of it will stay with me. I have read almost all of Charles Cumming's works (just to make sure I wasn't missing anything - or that this was below-par).
I am sure he'as a nice chap etc, but I can't understand the lavish praise he is getting. I loved the premise of their being a Sixth Man, which was what attracted me to it - but found that as the book went on, I increasingly had to suspend my disbelief. I know that for this type of a spy adventure we are required to believe our hero can escape/survive encounters that mere mortals (or in this case minor characters in the book) do not, but there comes a point where this effort becomes self-defeating.

By the end I realised that any reasonably competent bunch of baddies would have had him pumped off by about page 135. Sorry, it didn't ultimately live up to its opening premise.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Only average, 13 Dec 2011
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This review is from: The Trinity Six (Paperback)
Enjoyed the premise, but the characters lacked believability, and many loose ends remained untied by the conclusion. It felt like too much was sacrificed in favour in narrative, which puts it more in the Dan Brown than the le Carre mold.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Trinity Six, 15 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Trinity Six (Paperback)
A well crafted yarn of espionage. However, you need to be of pensionable age to remember the scandal surrounding Kim Philby et al. Nevertheless a good read. Have made a list of his other titles to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable spy novel, 11 Dec 2010
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Trinity Six (Hardcover)
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a modern spy novel which deals with the consequences of cold-war events, in which a present-day academic stumbles upon secrets from years ago and is drawn into the world of espionage. Charles Cumming provides a well-researched background of true (or at least on-record) events against which to set his story and this gives it a very convincing feel. The plot is plausible, the story is well paced and gripping, and he describes and uses locations in different European cities to very good effect. There is very sparing use of violence which makes it all the more shocking and effective when it does occur. Cumming doesn't rely on grisly scenes or "adrenaline-packed" action sequences to generate tension but racks it up very satisfactorily through implied threat and uncertainty. I found myself gradually drawn in and in the end thoroughly gripped.

The prose is literate, unaffected and very readable. Characters are generally well-drawn and believable, although I raised a slightly cynical eyebrow at the rather implausible keenness of a beautiful young woman to go to bed instantly with a somewhat older protagonist who, coincidentally I am sure, is roughly the same age as the author. Also, Cumming clearly has a burning moral indignation about a number of things and wanted to get this off his chest, which leads to some rather unconvincing speechifying toward the end of the book - but these are minor flaws which didn't spoil my enjoyment of an enjoyable, literate and engrossing read. Recommended.
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