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The Spanish Game (Alec Milius 2) Paperback – 29 Mar 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 117 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (29 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007416938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007416936
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

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.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover
I thought A Spy By Nature was good, and looked forward to a solid follow-up. In fact, The Spanish Game is even better. It will be seriously hard for anyone to beat this novel in 2006. Lots of subtlety in the plotting and characterisation. There's nothing predictable, but no bogus dead-ends, or cutesy contrivance.
It's a genuinely original read. Fast-paced without being obvious and packs a punch without being heavy handed.
The hero is a gem and a character that you'll want to see again and again. His literary personality is as identifiable and strong as a Stephen Maturin or a Flashman.
You'll find yourself reading this book sooner or later. My advice is read it sooner.
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By A. Cresswell TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 July 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not as good as his original 'Alec Milius' book "A Spy by Nature"
Simply put I found the plot a lot more complex and more difficult to follow. The mix of ETA/Basque/Spanish politics and mixing this with dashes of Spanish Language were off-putting. It was difficult to understand and relate to. The real problem though, was that after spending considerable time trying to keep track of who was who, the author simply stands everything on it's head. A lot of it makes no sense and some of the justifications for why characters did what they did seem very little sense. I think the author may have tried to be too clever with this plot and in desperation started using some unlikely scenario's to try and pull it all together. Think Dallas and the Shower Scene. Think Schoolboys "Then I woke up and my coffee was cold" type of ending. Boxed into a corner a very poor ending is offered.
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Format: Paperback
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 very clever plot, so perhaps I should say upfront that if very clever plotting is what you look for in a thriller, then Cumming's your man, and you might rate this a bit higher than I did. I felt, though, that he was trying just a bit too hard to keep us (readers) off balance, and the fact that his protagonist is an unpleasant, almost paranoid character doesn't help matters, though it might be reckoned a bold choice to have an "anti-hero" as the center of consciousness. Alec Milius is a disgraced spy, hiding out under false names in Spain, whose fear is that his old employers in MI6 will find out where he is and call him to account for botching the operation that led to his leaving the Service. In Spain, however, working for an entrepreneur called Julian Church (whose wife is Milius's lover), Milius is sent up to the Basque country to evaluate investment opportunities and gets drawn in to acquaintance with the Basque separatist movement and with Mikel Arenaza, one of its leaders, in particular. When Arenaza disappears under odd circumstances, Milius sets out to find out what happened, only to find that he himself is under surveillance. Milius has made it clear from the start that he would like nothing better than to re-enter the world of spying and be accepted again in that milieu, and he sees an opportunity here to make a good impression on those who are watching him. They decide to use him to explore corruption at the highest levels of the Spanish government, and it seems that his Basque experiences might make him useful for that.Read more ›
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