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on 7 August 2014
An interesting spin on cold war espionage being carried forward into the new world of 'democratic Europe. It is all more interesting to read it against the background of current events in Ukraine which seems like an example if the Soviet mentality alive and kicking.

The central character in this tale about spycraft is Sam Gaddis an academic from UCL. He is 40-something and divorced and needs to supplement his academic stipend with some extra income from writing. He is an historian specialising in Russian history, he is fluent in Russian and author of biographies of Russian leaders including the current Russian president, a vertically challenged ex KGB man who goes by the name of Sergei Platov. Platov's physical attributes and rise to political dominance and neo-Tsar status is remarkably similar the actual encumbent of the office of President of Russian, Vladimir Putin.

Through a series of apparently coincidental events he takes up the investigation begun by a recently deceased friend. He is following the trail of the 6th man in Cambridge Spy Ring. Very quickly he gets in over his head, an amateur in a world of professional killers. I did not find Sam Gaddis a particularly attractive person. I certainly did not like him as much as he liked himself and I was quite content as he stumbled from one near death experience to another. Will he, won't he come to a sticky end? He gets around bit too, Spain, Russia, Austria, Hungary all play a part.

The author puts across very well that sense of being unable to decide what is true and what is false, who is who they say there are and who is not, who can you trust and who can you not trust. That 'other world' feeling is well created and the British spymaster is every bit as amoral as his Russian opponents, or should that be colleagues?

The book is well written and even though I do not read many spy stories I enjoyed this. I was prompted to buy because earlier this year I had bought and read Charles Cummings' 'A Foreign Country' A Foreign Countrywhich I enjoyed a lot. Also with a theme of espionage it was more 'thriller' in style and I enjoyed it marginally better than this but both are good entertaining reads.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 August 2011
SAFE READING - NO SPOILERS

Charles Cumming now moves in grand circles on the shelf with John le Carre, Gerald Seymour and Robert Harris. All in a similar genre but different styles, they write classic and enjoyable page-turners about the murky worlds of spies and politics.

If you watched or read "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy ..." or "Their Trade Is Treachery" by Chapman Pincher or other books about the same period, the late 60s, MI5 was penetrated by Soviet agents at the highest levels. Known as the Cambridge Four, members of the ring have been identified: Kim Philby (Stanley), Donald Maclean (Homer), Guy Burgess (Hicks) and Anthony Blunt (Johnson). Several people have been suspected of being the "fifth man" of the group; John Cairncross (Liszt) was identified as such by Oleg Gordievsky, though many others have also been accused of membership of the Cambridge ring. (Cf "Their Trade Is Treachery" and "Too Secret Too Long" by Chapman Pincher.)

Cumming adds further twists in a fast-moving, easy-to-read spy thriller of the old sort; no fancy gadgets, flying machines or outlandish and unbelievable heroics just "ideological convictions, duty, loyalty to one's country. Spying is about weakness - he lust for money, for status, for sex. This is the guilty secret of our secret trade". (P 74) The identity of the sixth man was one of the most carefully guarded secrets of the Cold War.

If you need more details, look at the product information or some of the other reviews; I just recommend it to those who enjoy page-turner, spy thrillers of the George Smiley sort without the hi-tech gadgets - just thinkers.
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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 10 March 2012
'The dead man was not a dead man. He was alive but he was not alive. That was the situation.'

These are the opening sentences of The Trinity Six and they set the tone of the book. Contradictions and paradoxes abound. Who do you trust? Who is lying? Whose side are you on?

The Trinity Five were Anthony Blunt, Donald MacLean, Guy Burgess, Kim Philby and John Cairncross, recruited by the Russians while they were still at Cambridge in the late 1930s. Was there a sixth spy?

Charlotte Berg, a hard living investigative journalist believes there was and wants to collaborate with her friend, academic Sam Gaddes in writing a book about it. Charlotte's lifestyle catches up with her before she can tell Sam much about her research. Sam, desperate for money after a messy divorce, decides to pursue the project on his own. With little to go on this proves difficult, but eventually he meets Tom Neame, now in his nineties, who not only knew the Trinity Five, but also Edward Crane, aka Attila, the putative sixth man. As Sam feels he is beginning to make progress he realises that other people may also be interested in what he is doing. When another contact dies, he starts to get worried, but cannot give up, partly because he is now even more in debt and partly because he is an awkward so and so.

More people die and he becomes aware of the power of the secret services to keep tabs on every aspect of one's life - but whose secret service?

When I read A Foreign Country I had heard that Charles Cumming was being flagged as the new John le Carré and had been initially disappointed, because apart from being to do with spies, I could not see much similarity. With The Trinity Six I the similarities are clear. It is complex, unnerving and exciting. Sam, although sometimes I wanted to box his ears, is a convincing and credible hero whose many flaws make you like him better. The female characters are less persuasive but they play their parts well enough.

I enjoyed this book hugely.
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on 10 February 2014
Another excellent spy story from Charles Cumming. He's simply the best around. It seems that both the British and the Russians are equally determined to suppress the truth of the existence of a sixth member of Kim Philby's spy circle and the dramatic secret
that he holds: one which even today could cause an international crisis. It eventually falls to a British academic to investigate the story after the sudden death of a friend who first brought the rumour to his attention. It becomes apparent that he is in considerable danger when he discovers that the Russian president is an integral part of the story and that their secret service are prepared to kill to prevent it coming to light. Beautifully written and a very satisfying read.
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on 30 August 2016
I really enjoyed "The Trinity Six". It was a very fast page turner. Was there a 6th Cambridge Spy and what kind of Spy was he ? There are 3 big secrets in this brilliant espionage novel and you will want to find them out as quickly as possible. This book enters my list of all-time favourite novels. I can't recommend it enough. Could Philby have operated in a similar way (my own conjecture) ?
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on 30 September 2013
I don't usually rave about books, particularly this type. I've read so many but this was truly outstanding. He is a new author to me. I have read two of his other books already but this one just enthralled me. I found it not only incredibly believable but easy to read.
It was a great concept and a real page turner, my biggest disappointment was that it had to end. It was a book I could hardly put down. If you like this kind of stuff then read this. Word of warning though stay away from 'Typhoon' this must have been written with a hangover. All his other books are good though.
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on 31 May 2015
A thoroughly good read. This is the sixth novel in a row that I've read by Cumming each has been as good as the last . This novel manages to cleverly use what is known in the public domain about the Cambridge spy network and weave it into a quite believable storyline that there were others . I look forward to more by this author and will recommend to his work to friends .
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on 17 February 2017
Very disappointing! Feels like a quick potboiler written to satisfy a need for cash, just as Cummings hero (Gaddis) is forced to do in the storyline. Absence of the good plot and character development one is used to in his other books. Sad really!.
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on 15 February 2017
A
I enjoy Charles Cummings books. Started reading him after I heard him talk at the Cheltenham Book Festival in 2016, talking about Le Carre. I enjoy the trade craft details. I really enjoyed the plot twists and turns. A well written book that kept me engaged from start to finish.
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on 17 February 2018
A good read and fast paced. Look forward to reading more from the author. Highly recommend especially if you like spy stories.
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