A Foreign Country

A Foreign Country

4.5 14
by Charles Cumming
     
 

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“Silkily written, and more cool than hot…might make le Carré proud.”—The New York Times BOOK REVIEW

On the vacation of a lifetime in Egypt, an elderly French couple is brutally murdered. Then, days later, on the streets of Paris, a young French accountant is kidnapped. When Amelia Levene, who in six weeks is due to take

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Overview

“Silkily written, and more cool than hot…might make le Carré proud.”—The New York Times BOOK REVIEW

On the vacation of a lifetime in Egypt, an elderly French couple is brutally murdered. Then, days later, on the streets of Paris, a young French accountant is kidnapped. When Amelia Levene, who in six weeks is due to take over as the first female Chief of MI6, disappears without a trace while in the south of France, it is the gravest crisis MI6 has faced in more than a decade. Desperate not only to find her but to keep the press from learning that she has gone missing, Britain’s top intelligence agents turn to one of their own: disgraced former MI6 officer Thomas Kell.

“Eat your heart out, Daniel Craig...Cumming vividly showcases the undercover life of spies.”—GQ

Tossed out of the Service only months before, Kell is given one final chance to redeem himself—all he has to do is find Amelia Levene: quickly, quietly, and at any cost. Following a trail that leads him to France and then Tunisia, Kell uncovers a shocking secret and a conspiracy that could have unimaginable repercussions for Britain and its allies. All that stands in the way of personal and political catastrophe is Kell himself…

“Superb.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
A Foreign Country is silkily written, and more cool than hot. Cumming…describes exotic locales with detail and affection, and is relatively sparing in his use of bang-bang…While this novel nods to the past, it's rooted firmly in the mess of our present. A Foreign Country describes today's wars and morally ambiguous tactics…with an acerbity that might make le Carré proud.
—John Schwartz
Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Cumming follows 2011’s The Trinity Six with another superb stand-alone, which opens in 1978 Tunisia, where Amelia Weldon, a 20-year-old British au pair, is having an affair with her expatriate French employer. Fast forward to the present, to the brutal, apparently random murder of a retired French couple on an Egyptian beach; the abduction of a target referred to as HOLST on the streets of Paris; and the disappearance of the much older Weldon on the eve of her becoming chief of the U.K.’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6. The agency taps Thomas Kell, a former MI6 operative “turfed out in disgrace,” to find out what’s become of her. Starting out in Nice, Kell trails Weldon to Tunisia, where she turns up with a much younger man in tow. Cumming is particularly skilled at sketching his characters, most notably Kell (a classically reluctant spy) and Weldon, who’s haunted by personal demons central to the elaborate puzzle of a story. The elegant prose will appeal to those who don’t usually read spy fiction. 100,000 first printing. Agent: Luke Janklow, Janklow & Nesbit. (Aug.)
Wall Street Journal

A fast-paced and absorbing spy thriller.
The New York Times

Charles Cumming makes his espionage novel feel fresh.
GQ

Eat your heart out, Daniel Craig... Cumming vividly showcases meticulous research and insight into the undercover life of spies.
Shelf Awareness

A tale of European intrigue and conspiracy from a novelist who knows how the espionage game is played.
Bookreporter

One of those very rare books that from its first page demonstrates that it's something out of the ordinary, one of those tales that the reader hopes will never end...
Library Journal
Amelia Levene is about to become the first woman to run the British intelligence agency MI6 when she mysteriously disappears. Disgraced former officer Thomas Kell is recruited to find her. He quickly learns that she has not been kidnapped; she's hiding on purpose. What would motivate someone at the height of their career to give it all up? What he uncovers, with Levene's help, unveils a dark conspiracy that goes back years. VERDICT Cumming's sixth thriller (after The Trinity Six) simmers and crackles until the explosive finale. Where in other novels Kell would need the entire narrative to find Levene, he discovers her whereabouts almost immediately. That plot twist along with the surprises that follow make this a worthwhile read that will appeal especially to readers who appreciate John le Carré, Olen Steinhauer, and David Ignatius. [See Prepub Alert, 2/12/12; 100,000-copy first printing.]
Kirkus Reviews
A deadly long-shot mission gives a disgraced secret agent a chance at redemption. Isolated pieces--the dissolution, in Tunisia a generation ago, of the marriage of Jean-Marc Daumal and wife Celine over his affair with nanny Amelia Weldon; the present-day murder of elderly Parisians Philippe and Jeannine Malot on a Cairo street; the kidnapping of a target nicknamed HOLST by one Akim Errachidi and his team--precede the introduction of dissolute Thomas Kell, waking up in a hotel room with another hangover eight months after his surgical dismissal, after two decades of service, from Britain's MI6. A call from his old pal, Jimmy Marquand, sobers Kell immediately. The new MI6 chief-designate, Amelia Levine, has gone missing before even assuming the job. Kell knew Amelia well, and he leaps at the chance to be back in the game. He checks files, Amelia's car and her room, noting that the signs indicate abduction. He questions veteran agents Bill and Barbara Knight, pictures of concern and cooperation with Kell...until he leaves, and their manner turns conspiratorial, and they hint at allegiances other than MI6. Using Amelia's Blackberry as a guide, Kell follows her movements over the previous two weeks. Cumming flashes back to Amelia for the same period; when she's found by Kell, it's just the beginning of a complicated cat-and-mouse game stretching back to the trio of prologue events and weaving together personal and political tangles. Cumming's sixth thriller (The Trinity Six, 2011, etc.) is smart and intricate, with a large cast of cool characters and an authentic feel.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781410452474
Publisher:
Gale Cengage Learning
Publication date:
12/05/2012
Edition description:
Large Print
Pages:
553
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.20(d)

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