Synopses & Reviews
"Tautly written, cleverly plotted...it reminded me strongly of the early books of John le Carré" -- Robert Harris, author of The Ghost
"Charles Cumming is a man put on earth to perpetuate the spy thriller." --The Daily Telegraph
"...supremely intelligent and utterly readable...Smartly paced and intricately plotted, Cumming's decidedly unglamorous look at industrial espionage provides plenty of elaborate deceits, double crosses and other trappings of a first-class spy thriller." --Publishers Weekly
Alec Milius, a recent graduate of the London School of Economics, is young, smart, and a bit of a slacker, stuck in a shady job and suffering from a lack of direction. So, when an old family friend offers to put him up for a job in British Intelligence, Alec begins the rigorous selection process for SIS or MI6. Though he doesn't officially make the cut, he is funneled into a prime position at a British oil company with interests in the Caspian Sea. He is directed to befriend Fortner Grice and Katharine Simms, two charismatic employees of Andromeda, a rival American oil firm. Lured into the murky world of industrial espionage, Millius finds himself trapped in a life of secrets and lies, manipulated by MI6 and the CIA, and confronted by the reality of a ruthless business environment in which priceless information can come at the cost of human life. Compellingly told, utterly authentic, and heart-racingly tense, A Spy By Nature will grip you until the very last page.
"Edgar-nominee Cook (The Last Talk with Lola Faye
, 2010, etc.) plays the spy game in this mystery adventure. Soon after 9/11, Paul Crane, a young think-tank researcher, interviews Thomas Danforth, an elderly New York City resident who believes he has information relevant to defending America against fanatics. Danforth wants the meeting because Crane wrote an article demanding a revenge-filled response to 9/11. Crane is skeptical, but Danforth unfolds a tale that begins in 1939, when he ran his father's import business. With the war imminent, Danforth was lured into an anti-Nazi conspiracy by his college friend, Robert Clayton. Other characters enter, including Ted Bannion, a disillusioned Spanish Civil War loyalist, and Anna Klein, a mysterious and beautiful young linguist. Captivated by Anna, Danforth accompanies her to Europe, where, with Bannion's help, she intends to organize Spanish Loyalists interned in France into an anti-Nazi force. That scheme fails. The three then decide Danforth will pose as an art dealer seeking Hitler's paintings. The plan is assassination, but the Gestapo intervenes. Bannion takes cyanide. Klein, by now the object of Danforth's passion, is captured. But because of his father's connections, Danforth is simply deported from Nazi Germany. The narrative regularly shifts from the interview to Danforth's adventures in the abattoir that was Europe in the 1940s, where he sought to learn Anna's fate. Clues hint Anna was a double or triple agent, and Danforth is eventually sent to the Soviet Union to determine her identity. There he's taken for a spy and sent to the gulag for 12 years. As the story unfolds, Danforth pushes and prods the callow Crane toward understanding the complexity of moral choices, the shadows that obscure love and loyalty and the perils of cause becoming obsession. Absent one minor point,
Cook's plot is as captivating as his characters. It's rendered in an often ear-pleasing literary style— "the sewer's most pernicious flotsam"— and laced with dozens of intriguing historical anecdotes. A knight errant, a labyrinth of deceit, a sure bestseller." —Kirkus Reviews
"Thomas Cook's work is elegant, philosophical, and literary. This book is to be treasured, and is bound to earn him new readers. Grade A" —Cleveland Plain Dealer
This is what they told me a long time ago.
Only make contact in the event of an emergency.
Only telephone if you believe that your position has been fatally compromised.
Under no circumstances are you to approach us unless it is absolutely necessary in order to preserve the security of the operation.
This is the number.
Alec Milius is young, smart, and ambitious. He also has a talent for deception. He is working in a dead-end job when a chance encounter leads him to MI6, the elite British Secret Intelligence Service, handing him an opportunity to play center-stage in a dangerous game of espionage.
In his new line of work, Alec finds that the difference between the truth and a lie can mean the difference between life and death--and he is having trouble telling them apart. Isolated and exposed, he must play a role in which the slightest glance or casual remark can seem heavy with unintended menace. Caught between British and American Intelligence, Alec finds himself threatened and alone, unable to confide in even his closest friend. His life as a spy begins to exact a terrible price, both on himself and on those around him.
Richly atmospheric and chillingly plausible, A Spy By Nature announces the arrival of British author Charles Cumming as heir apparent to masters like John le Carre and Len Deighton. A bestseller in England, it's the gripping storyof a young man driven by ruthless ambition who finds himself chasing not just success, but survival.
A bestseller in England, this debut novel by Cumming introduces Alec Milius, a smart and ambitious economics graduate. When he lands a prime job for a British oil company, Alec finds himself trapped in a world of secrets and lies that could cost him his life.
On the eve of World War II, an international plot gone wrong leads a wealthy man on a quest that spans decades and continents, to the dawn of a troubled new century.
“Nobody tells a story better than Thomas H. Cook.” —Michael Connelly
ON THE EVE OF WORLD WAR II, A HIGH STAKES INTERNATIONAL PLOT LEADS TO A DEADLY OBSESSION
Thomas Danforth has lived a fortunate life. The son of a wealthy importer, he wandered the globe in his youth, and now, in his twenties, he lives in New York City and runs the family business. It is 1939 and the world is on the brink of war, but his life is untroubled, his future assured. Then, on a snowy evening walk along Gramercy Park, a friend makes a fateful request—and involves Thomas in a dangerous idea that could change the fates of millions.
Danforth is to provide access to his secluded Connecticut mansion, where a mysterious woman will receive training in firearms and explosives. Thus begins an international plot carried out by the strange and alluring Anna Klein—a plot that will ensnare Thomas in more ways than one. When it all goes wrong and Anna disappears, his quest across a war torn world begins…
About the Author
Charles Cumming is a journalist and contributing editor to The Week magazine. Approached in 1995 for recruitment by the SIS, Cumming has weaved his personal experiences with SIS (MI6) into his fiction. He lives in London with his family.