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Charles Cumming knows his stuff and knows MI6. It seems MI6 was a background for him. He has brought us Tom Kell, a spymaster who is at his best. Tom Kell had a nasty time with an American CIA agent who was into renditions and water boarding, and Kell took the major blame. He was disinherited from MI6 pending a trial. The trial is in limbo, and in the meantime, Kell is asked to return once again to assist Amelia, the 'C' of MI6. Amelia has promised Kell a new post. His salary and benefits were returned a year ago when he helped save Amelia's son. Now, she wants more.

Someone is leaking secrets in the Bosporus. There are several targets, and each one is looked at with great rigor. A fellow colleague has been killed in a plane crash, and it is up to Kell to find the reason. Somewhere between, London, Turkey, and Russia, there is a double agent. Along the way, a lot of good sleuthing and spy work. Kell has his choice of the best spies, and he once again meets up with an old antagonist and meets a new one. The environments in each of these countries is explored within the boundaries of work and play, and we are there. We can smell the sea, observe the night clubs and the restaurants. Harrods comes alive in London, the secret offices and houses of MI6, their offices in other countries, the secret phone rooms, the tea, the whiskey, the food, all lead us to an extremely well run organization. We meet the SVR, Russian secret agents, CIA, observe their methods of clandestine work. And, most of all, we get to know Kell, who is almost as secretive as Amelia, the woman he works for.

Such a well written novel, and you cannot guess how 'things' will work out because new problems and people pop up right until the end.

Recommended. prisrob 02-10-17
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on 20 December 2016
This book was published in 2014. This is a tale of espionage set in today's world. The backdrop to the action, which is centred in Turkey, is the civil war in Syria and the recent Russian invasion of Crimea and destabilisation of Ukraine. Repercussions of Iran's nuclear programme also crop up. I finished this book on the night of the assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey making this tale of espionage feel all the more real.

The British, America, and Russian secret services compete with each other by any and all means for influence but above all to score points off each other. They do that by undermining and ultimately killing each other while everyone else is a pawn in this greater game going on around them. After a time out in the cold, Tom Kell is brought back into the British SIS by "C" Amelia Levene. His assignment is to get to the bottom of the sudden, apparently accidental, death of the British head of station in Ankara. She chose him for this job for personal reasons which are quickly made clear.

I am not a fan of espionage fiction but I have found myself curiously drawn to the books of Charles Cumming. This is the 3rd I've read and his ability to generate the atmosphere of sinister threat from the tedium of routine surveillance made this a very compelling read. This is a tale of deceit and treachery on many levels and right to the end you never know who to trust. Even when you finish you will be left wondering.
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on 24 May 2017
Tremendous thriller - an SIS officer dies in a plane crash. Murder, suicide, accident? Thomas Kell is tasked with unravelling the worms in the can. There are lots of worms.

London, Istanbul, Chios, Odessa, somewhere in Croatia whose name I forget. The search for the truth, if there is such a thing, takes Kell all over. Strangely lots of people he needs to talk to get bumped off - maybe the CIA, but more likely the SVR as the KGB calls itself these days.

It feels real. It feels like this is exactly what happens at MI6 and MI5. Not that I know anything about it of course. But I believe pretty much every word.
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on 12 March 2017
Without doubt, Charles Cumming is a superb writer of spy thrillers. Having recently read 'A Foreign Country', his first story involving suspended MI6 agent Thomas Kell, I embarked upon 'A Colder War' wondering whether it would be as good. I need not have worried - if anything, 'A Colder War' is even better, with a first rate plot and really exciting finale. This time the action largely takes place in Turkey, where Kell has been sent by MI6 chief Amelia Levene, to investigate the unexpected death of the head of the agency's local station. Levine suspects that there is a mole at the agency, and Kellis soon pursuing a parallel investigation into who this might be.
'A Colder War' is a thrilling read and I'm really looking forward to the next book in this series.
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on 16 October 2014
My second outing with this Scottish author, who was according to his biography, briefly employed by British intelligence service MI6 in the 90’s. My first taste was his stand-alone novel Typhoon which I read back at the end of 2011 in my pre-blogging days. I have it rated it on Goodreads among my read books as a 4.

Typhoon, from the author’s website…. published in the UK in 2008, is a political thriller about a CIA plot to destabilise China on the eve of the Beijing Olympics. The story spans the decade from the transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong in 1997 to present-day Shanghai. Typhoon was listed by The New York Times as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2009.

A Colder War is Cumming’s seventh book to date and is the second to feature Thomas Kell and Amelia Levene – the first being A Foreign Country.

Kell is tasked by Levene, his boss with investigating the suspicious death of another British agent based in Turkey. Kell seizes the opportunity to hopefully get his career back on track – he’s been in limbo after getting burned on a previous assignment – courtesy of a CIA agent, Jim Chater and his involvement in an extraordinary rendition.

An exciting book with Kell digging deeper into Paul Wallinger’s death…..spies, moles, traitors, double agents or perhaps triple! We have a bit of a jaunt around Europe – Turkey and London, with some time spent in the Ukraine also. Planes, trains and automobiles as well as the odd ferry. Throw in a funeral, some drinks parties, a bit of nightclubbing, some romance with some frantic sex, a few CIA agents, the Russians with their SVR ………and overall you have a decent tale well told.

Kell is sympathetic and appealing, though some of his actions, which the book turn on, perhaps seem a bit implausible to this reader. We have his back stories, both personal – divorce and loneliness - and professional – that dirty Yank Chater, had me liking him.

As the narrative unfolded and we concentrated our efforts on our suspect, I particularly liked the scenes where surveillance techniques were employed against an agent who was wise to the possibility and he was using counter-surveillance measures to shake his trackers – enjoyable and intriguing. I do like that aspect of the spy story.

Also the investigative element; where Kell only has a piece or two of the jigsaw and his boss has more pictures of the puzzle which she is holding onto. Elements of who knows what and when, and who we believe and whether we trust them add to the tension. The sometimes volatile relationship between Kell and Levene – boss and employee or friend and confidant – added another layer to my enjoyment.

A minor niggle or two but overall I enjoyed this more than the last one, though would stick with 4 from 5 as an overall score. I’ll definitely want to read more from Cumming in the future, which is just as well as I have most of his other books in the stash. I always find my answer to that “want to read more by” question helps determine my overall enjoyment quotient.

Charles Cumming's website is here. http://www.charlescumming.co.uk/

Again then 4 from 5

Bought earlier this year on Amazon for kindle.
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VINE VOICEon 24 May 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
"A Colder War," sets the bar even higher in terms of the spy novel. I have to declare immediately that I am an avid fan of Charles Cumming's work and have eagerly read all his books from the start beginning with "A Spy by Nature." His books have increasingly developed a cohesiveness with sharp dialogue, expertly plotted, with an authentic feel to the story.

The tale is a clever one, set in a refreshingly different location, Istanbul, with a contemporary plot and seemingly unconnected events, all coming together.

Thomas Kell, the British agent, whose career was resurrected in A Foreign Country, is tasked with investigating the death of the local Head of Station. A 'mole' is suspected and the pace of narrative is relentless as Kell unravels the pieces of the jigsaw. It's not all plain sailing of course as he is obliged to work alongside a CIA agent, who had a part in his fall from grace. Kell is a rounded character with even a love interest brilliantly portrayed by the author.

A Colder War is not only a first class thriller providing a glimpse of the intelligence world but a book which is compelling and addictive.
In terms of the world of espionage stories this is gold standard.
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on 24 April 2017
very good
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on 1 July 2017
One of the best spy thrillers I have ever read. Author has blended thorough research with in depth know how of the workings of SIS. This has produced a highly paced and exciting to read story. I am looking forward to reading his next book. Congratulations!
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on 21 March 2017
Fantastic espionage thriller, better than the first... Looking forward to reading a Divided Spy.
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on 19 February 2017
Good read.
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