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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sex, Politics and Espionage - it has to be read!
From the opening pages of Typhoon, Charles Cumming captures his audience with his best novel so far. Typhoon is set in Hong Kong in the final months of British rule with politics and espionage at the forefront of this brilliantly written novel. Cumming has a unique way of combining clever character profiles with his familiarly well researched plot and a sexy love...
Published on 22 Nov 2010 by Aggieandco

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars though the basic plot was fine.
Too much Chinese politics made this a difficult read, though the basic plot was fine.
Published 2 months ago by raymond bridges and Brenda Bridges


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sex, Politics and Espionage - it has to be read!, 22 Nov 2010
This review is from: Typhoon (Paperback)
From the opening pages of Typhoon, Charles Cumming captures his audience with his best novel so far. Typhoon is set in Hong Kong in the final months of British rule with politics and espionage at the forefront of this brilliantly written novel. Cumming has a unique way of combining clever character profiles with his familiarly well researched plot and a sexy love triangle thrown into the mix. A thoroughly excellent book which can only be recommended and I look forward to more great things from a fine author.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it, just buy it !!!, 26 May 2009
By 
C. Bones "surreyman" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Typhoon (Paperback)
I find that I only review books that I really like, probably because there are too many that I think that are mediocre or even truly awful. So for the few books I have reviewed I have given 5 or on the odd occasion, 4 stars. Now I find myself more than just a bit constrained by the scoring system. I need more stars !!

Because Charles Cumming is exceptional. His Alec Milius trilogy were also very fine spy novels but now with Typhoon he has produced something quite different. Typhoon is a big novel with big characters and big issues. It meets the first requirement of a thriller; it is truly gripping, often not because of breath-taking action scenes, although there are plenty of those, but simply because of the way the dialogue crackles and fizzes off the page, or the way he captures the excitement of a particular scene. Even if you have never been to Hong Kong or China you are going to feel as if you are right there.

But this is more that just a top class thriller. The author is demonstrating that he can populate a wide canvas with multiple and fascinating characters, move around the world and between decades, take on political and cultural issues, and, from this potentially complex mix, produce that most rare of things; a great novel which is also a great adventure.

We are seeing a young author just getting into his stride and, seeing the jump he has made between his third and fourth novels, well, anything is possible. So hold those comparisons ! As another reviewer says, in Charles Cumming we may have a true original.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Winner!, 11 Mar 2009
This review is from: Typhoon (Paperback)
Once more Charles Cumming does not disappoint. Typhoon is a fast moving and fascinating insight into a side of China that is for the most part unknown. Few had heard of the Uighur minority in the North Western part of this vast country. Strangely life imitated art in that some months after the launch of the book there were indeed troubles in the region. This serves to confirm the detailed research which Cumming always exhibits in his novels and which, combined with his considerable powers of description confirm his position as one of our leading young writers of today. A fascinating story.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A firecracker of a spy novel, 1 Jun 2009
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This review is from: Typhoon (Paperback)
I found out about Charles Cumming via a friend at Facebook, and having read his first novel, subsequently went through Typhoon in a matter of a few days. It is consistently excellent. He captures the chaos, nervousness and exhuberance of Hong Kong leading up to the 1997 handover, and fast-forwards deftly into the quasi-capitalist China of our own time. One can really feel what it is like to work there.

There are no clever gadgets, no silly car chases, or gimmicks. But I reckon that even Ian Fleming himself would have loved this book for its mixture of realism and excellent characterisations. And the twist at the end is worth waiting for.

The central character, Joe Lennox, is likeable but not sanctimonious. It is totally believable that a man like that works in the SIS.

We want more!
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars UK's new spy thriller master, 2 Jun 2008
This review is from: Typhoon (Mass Market Paperback)
If John Le Carré modernized the image of the seedier image of the British Secret Service, then Cumming's new book Typhoon combines the traditional with the contemporary of the spying game. It also signifies Cumming as perhaps the most noteworthy writer to arrive since, say, Le Carré or Frederick Forsyth.

With the end of the Cold War, writers have had to look for other political arenas for their character to perform in. Some naturally led to confrontations with Al Qaeda or other terrorist but many have focused on the glamorous (if it can be called that) side. In Typhoon, Cumming's approaches an old "enemy" from a new angle with great sensitivity. Basically Typhoon is a political thriller about a CIA plot to destabilize China on the eve of the Beijing Olympics. British SIS are involved from the start as the novel begins at the time of the handing over sovereignty of Hong Kong and spans a decade. The novel also focuses on the plight of the Muslim inhabitants of the Xinhiang region of the People's Republic of China, and it is used as a pawn by the CIA to bring about this destablization. The question is: how can the SIS prevent this?

It is also a story of three main characters whose lives are inextricably entwined, making for a novel that's poignant without ever giving into outright happiness. You get the feeling from the outset that SIS agent Joe Lennox's relationship with Isabella is doomed from the start. Basically because if something is coveted so much, there is a price to pay. And the thorn in his side is CIA agent Miles Coolidge. It is the dynamics of these characters that drives the novel.

Cumming has a knack of description that brings the novel alive, capturing Shanghai or Hong Kong so visually you actually feel you are there. If the spy novel and the characters that people them have to change with the times to appeal to an audience with ever increasing access to information, then Charles Cumming has managed to recall why people read Greene, Ambler, Forysth, Le Carré et al. The tag-line "master of the modern spy thriller" is a deserved one.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Orient Express, 18 April 2009
This review is from: Typhoon (Paperback)
This is not your run-of-the-mill pap. It's thoughtful, informative literature. A love story, a potted history, and an out-and-out thriller, all rolled into one. The research and attention to detail are mindblowing. But the real pleasure of Typhoon is knowing that you are reading something entirely authentic. This is how the dirty work gets done. Espionage has little to do with gadgetry and weapons. It's exhausting and devoid of glamour. Down on the ground, it's about money, manipulation, and deceit. It's about lying to your wife, and selling your best friend down the river. And this is where Cumming excels. His characterisation and dialogue are utterly convincing, as is the wholly satisfying conclusion. Cumming is right up there with Gerald Seymour: a writer who can draw you in and keep you gripped, without ever having to resort to sensational nonsense. This is a beautifully crafted book, unreseverdly recommended, and thoroughly deserving of its rave reviews from the national press. Oh, and if you've never been to Hong Kong, Beijing or Shanghai, you will have by the time you've finished Typhoon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TERRORISM THREATS NEVER CEASE TO AMAZE, 31 July 2008
By 
Charles Ranald (Nr. Alresford, Hampshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Typhoon (Mass Market Paperback)
TERRORISM THREATS NEVER CEASE TO AMAZE
How Charles Cumming is able to write a novel encasing a dramatically complicated plot in China, Washington and Hong Kong without having spent a lifetime in situ is beyond the ken of most readers What we have to remember is that Cumming at the tender age of 37 has already got three outstandingly well written spy thrillers under his belt, the last of which revealed an in depth knowledge of the Basque Separatist movement and ETA.

It may also help to know that Cumming openly admits that at the age of 25 he was recruited by the Foreign Office and experienced some realities of what makes a `Spook'. His enormous skill as a writer comes not it would seem from his brief relationship with MI6, but from a brilliant brain and a first class education.

With TYPHOON, we are initially taken back eleven years to the handover by Governor Chris Patten of Hong Kong to China. A relatively elderly man is discovered by a British soldier on the Hong Kong shore of Starling Inlet, well into Dapeng Bay at the East of Hong Kong`s New Territories. It was fortunate that Professor Wang was unaware that in the past British Army Air Corp helicopters had routinely searched the bay for body parts of the multitude of refugees who had failed to make the swim thanks to crocodiles.

Joe Lennox of the SIS is comfortably at ease with himself concealed amongst the money seeking male dominated society of Hong Kong where he can be seen coming and going from the House of the Thousand Asseholes, in politer words Jardine House. Joe is aware of a CIA plot to destabilise China or at least a part of it - Xin Jiang the autonomous Muslim dominated region of North West China. At a Washington conference of senior CIA planners one American heavyweight former politician reveals his ignorance by commenting that he didn't think there were any Muslims in China. His assistant coughed discretely and pointed out that at the last count there were about 20 million.

As the story skips eight years and Joe is seen trolling every bar and restaurant in Shanghai and Beijing his possible would be wife, the lovely Isabella is parted from him under slightly inexplicable circumstances. Cumming displays a sensitivity in his description of a semi tragedy in the making, which had the effect of bringing this reviewer near to tears. Combining the complexities of global espionage with heart tearing romance binds the reader in such an intimate manner that it compels page turning at a hitherto unknown speed.

Cumming, the English language master, is capable of writing in the present tense, that most difficult of techniques. In TYPHOON he doesn't use it, but introduces an exceptionally cunning ploy by the super-imposition of a narrator using first person narrative and dialogue. It is mysteriously enjoyable.

A glossary of acronyms and persona would maybe make this thriller even more gripping. With the Beijing Olympics actually on the starting blocks, a huge success awaits this terrific novel.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it. Just buy it !!!, 16 Jun 2008
By 
C. Bones "surreyman" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Typhoon (Mass Market Paperback)
I find that I only review books that I really like, probably because there are too many that I think that are mediocre or even truly awful. So for the few books I have reviewed I have given 5 or on the odd occasion, 4 stars. Now I find myself more than just a bit constrained by the scoring system. I need more stars !!

Because Charles Cumming is exceptional. His Alec Milius trilogy were also very fine spy novels but now with Typhoon he has produced something quite different. Typhoon is a big novel with big characters and big issues. It meets the first requirement of a thriller; it is truly gripping, often not because of breath-taking action scenes, although there are plenty of those, but simply because of the way the dialogue crackles and fizzes off the page, or the way he captures the excitement of a particular scene. Even if you have never been to Hong Kong or China you are going to feel as if you are right there.

But this is more that just a top class thriller. The author is demonstrating that he can populate a wide canvas with multiple and fascinating characters, move around the world and between decades, take on political and cultural issues, and, from this potentially complex mix, produce that most rare of things; a great novel which is also a great adventure.

We are seeing a young author just getting into his stride and, seeing the jump he has made between his third and fourth novels, well, anything is possible. So hold those comparisons ! As another reviewer says, in Charles Cumming we may have a true original.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Towering Achievement, 18 Feb 2011
By 
David Craggs (CT USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Typhoon (Paperback)
This novel works on so many different levels.
It's a character study, a love story, a political thriller, a history of the transfer of Hong Kong and a straight spy story - whichever way you take it, it won't disappoint.
From the get go, you are drawn in to the murky world of post 9/11 espionage. The characters are richly drawn and jump off the page. Expatriates all over the world will have met people like this and will doubtless be now wondering how many of them were working for MI6?
This guy can write dialogue that is up there with the masters. Sometimes it is laugh out loud funny on other occasions, he puts a lump in your throat or leaves you gasping for air.
This is one of the best books I have ever read and I can't recommend it highly enough. A piece of classy literature that certainly puts Mr.Cummin up there with John Le Carre and Len Deighton - quite brilliant. A towering achievement - buy it now and savour it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Plausible Story Line, 15 Feb 2010
By 
Kim W. Rellahan (Helsinki Finland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Typhoon (Paperback)
Not a lot of car chase excitement, actually none, but that's probably what the spook business is all about....moments of excitement, but hours, days and weeks of boredom. What makes this a very good book is the plausible story line....that's pretty gripping and I almost missed my train stop once because of it. The characters seemingly very intense and hold your attention throughout. The only negative for me was the ending. Once you got into the last vital time table for events to unfold, you basically knew how they were going to unfold. That said,
still worth a read, you should like it.
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