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A Foreign Country

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Overview

From the internationally acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author of The Trinity Six, Charles Cumming, comes A Foreign Country, a compelling tale of deceit and betrayal, conspiracy and redemption

 

On the vacation of a lifetime in Egypt, an elderly French couple are brutally murdered. Days later, a meticulously-planned kidnapping takes place on the streets of Paris. Amelia Levene, the first female Chief of MI6, has disappeared without a trace, six weeks before she ...

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A Foreign Country

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Overview

From the internationally acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author of The Trinity Six, Charles Cumming, comes A Foreign Country, a compelling tale of deceit and betrayal, conspiracy and redemption

 

On the vacation of a lifetime in Egypt, an elderly French couple are brutally murdered. Days later, a meticulously-planned kidnapping takes place on the streets of Paris. Amelia Levene, the first female Chief of MI6, has disappeared without a trace, six weeks before she is due to take over as the most influential spy in Europe. It is the gravest crisis MI6 has faced in more than a decade. Desperate not only to find her, but to keep her disappearance a secret, Britain’s top intelligence agents turn to one of their own: disgraced MI6 officer Thomas Kell. Tossed out of the Service only months before, Kell is given one final chance to redeem himself - find Amelia Levene at any cost. The trail leads Kell to France and Tunisia, where he uncovers a shocking secret and a conspiracy that could have unimaginable repercussions for Britain and its allies. Only Kell stands in the way of personal and political catastrophe.

 

A Foreign Country is one The Washington Post's Best Audiobooks of 2012.

Winner of the 2012 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Audio
In this audio edition of Cumming’s thriller, narrator Jot Davies’s crisp, stiff-upper-lip performance perfectly captures Thomas Kell, a former British agent who was unceremoniously dismissed from MI6 after two decades of service for his involvement in a torture scandal. But to his surprise, Kell’s given a shot at reinstatement. All he has to do is find a missing person, the agency’s first female chief, Amelia Levene, who went missing in France prior to her official appointment. Davis’s characterizations are subtle but effective: a slightly softer delivery for females, an understated accent for French characters. His rendition of Amanda captures the character’s sophisticated haughtiness, as well as her self-doubt, while his Kell remains unflappably British in his quest for answers and redemption. A St. Martin’s hardcover. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
“Jot Davies’s narration ushers you in; his voice is a steady presence through the disparate events from the beginning to the satisfying conclusion…Davies’s pacing fits the narrative, quickening as tension increases, mechanical as an extraction team pursues its deadly work, wistful or angry as the protagonist’s situation demands. You’ll find yourself wishing this story would continue just a while longer.” – AudioFile Magazine

“Faultlessly performed by Jot Davies.” – BookPage

“Narrator Jot Davies’s crisp, stiff-upper-lift performance perfectly captures Thomas Kell, a former British agent who was unceremoniously dismissed from MI6…Davis’s characterizations are subtle but effective: a slightly softer delivery for females, and understated accent for French characters. His rendition of Amanda captures the character’s sophisticated haughtiness, as well as her self-doubt, while his Kell remains unflappably British in his quest for answers and redemption.” – Publishers Weekly

“[Jot Davies’s] versatility provides outstanding tone and nuance to the story’s varied cast of characters.” – The Star-Ledger

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.)
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: 9781427221810
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio
  • Publication date: 8/7/2012
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Pages: 8
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 6.06 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

CHARLES CUMMING is the author of The New York Times bestselling thriller The Trinity Six, as well as others including A Spy by Nature and Typhoon. He lives with his family in London.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(9)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(0)

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 7, 2012

    This review isn’t an easy one to write, since I wanted to

    This review isn’t an easy one to write, since I wanted to really like this book, instead of just liking it. However, the author has a handle on the spy thriller, and he more than proves his capabilities as a writer. But in order for me to really like a story, I have to become fully invested in the novel in some form or fashion, either through one or more characters, a hair-raising plot, or dialogue that projects louder than an Italian opera singer. And I didn’t get any of those feelings from this story.

    Charles Cummings and his publisher have done all that they can do for this novel, but A Foreign Country lacks a bleeding, beating heart. From the first page to the last, the author appeared to be going through the motions of what it takes to write a great spy novel. The multiple characters were developed thoughtfully and meticulously, but none of the characters really grabbed me around the leg and yanked me into the story. The pages turned easily, and the short chapters helped me to race effortlessly to end, but neither the story itself, nor the characters, will resonate with me much after the conclusion.

    Unlike other reviewers, I appreciate the risk the author took by going against the typical formula for a mainstream thriller and writing the story using multiple first person point of views. While it did take away a bit of the suspense, it provided a rather unique perspective and taking chances is what writing is all about.

    I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

    Robert Downs
    Author of Falling Immmortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2013

    Fantastic!

    Charles Cumming is fast becoming one of my favorite spy novel authors! Trinity Six was good...A Foreign Country was better! I love the quote on which the book is based...inside the book. Some parts were a bit thin, especially how the female lead gets into trouble to begin with...but I guess it's always the simple, stupid stuff that gets ya! ;) At any rate, fast-paced...I totally enjoyed the characters...kept thinking about them long after the bookwas done. Can't wait for Cummings next novel!

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  • Posted March 6, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The book starts out with many intriguing story lines¿ Tunisia;

    The book starts out with many intriguing story lines…
    Tunisia; a young nanny suddenly vanishes...
    Egypt; an elderly couple are brutally murdered...
    Paris; an accountant is kidnapped...
    South of France; the first soon to be female chief of M16 vanishes…
    From there it is edge of your seat subtle spy tingling tension!

    Thomas Kell is a disgraced agent who was put out to pasture and reluctantly called back in from “the cold” for his particular set of skills along with his past relationship with the soon to be new M16 Chief Amelia Levene. Should news of the missing Chief get out all hell would break loose… so he must not fail!

    It just gets better as you read more! I had not read anything from Charles Cumming before but, now I will be checking out all of this guys books starting with the first one “A Spy By Nature”

    This book kept me on the edge of my seat and turning pages one right after the other well into the night! Great finger nail biting suspense & tension...a perfect spy thriller, my mother will love this one!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 22, 2012

    I enjoyed the multiple plot twists, characters, and the pace of

    I enjoyed the multiple plot twists, characters, and the pace of the story, but I kept expecting there to be more involvement from the French DGSE based on the references in the story. I feel like there was a missed opportunity to expand on the complexity of the story. Overall a good read!

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  • Posted September 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    No reason I can find not to give this well constructed novel fiv

    No reason I can find not to give this well constructed novel five stars. It was a very good read, one that kept me reading until I finished it. The plot was engaging and the characters, at least the good guys, likeable. For a while I was in Tunisia, then Marseilles, Paris and London, always with an eye over my shoulder for the next bad guy to appear. I regretted Vincent's turn toward the end as I had thought he might not be so bad, and may actually turn against the bad guys. but such is the right of the novelist to make choices for which he alone knows the reason. It's all part of telling a good tale. So, if you like foreign capers involving spies, you should like A Foreign Country. I didn't get a free copy and have no axe to grind.

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    Posted May 7, 2013

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    Posted May 26, 2013

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