The Spanish Game: A Novel

The Spanish Game: A Novel

4.0 16
by Charles Cumming
     
 

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"The best of the new generation of British spy writers taking over where le Carre and Deighton left off." -- Observer (London) on The Spanish Game


"The serpentine twists and the unflaggingly realistic suspense leave you breathless, but spellbound." -- Daily Mail (London) on The Spanish Game



"Tautly

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Overview

"The best of the new generation of British spy writers taking over where le Carre and Deighton left off." -- Observer (London) on The Spanish Game


"The serpentine twists and the unflaggingly realistic suspense leave you breathless, but spellbound." -- Daily Mail (London) on The Spanish Game



"Tautly written, cleverly plotted...reminded me strongly of the early books of John le Carre." -- Robert Harris, author of The Ghost, on A Spy by Nature


Six years ago, Alec Milius was released by MI6 after a disasterous operation. His world shattered, Milius has been living in Madrid, attempting to put his former life as a spy behind him, and quitely rebuild his life. But all his plans come crashing down when the head of a separatist movement goes missing, and Milius is lured back into the world of espionage, the brutal world of lies and desperation. This time, though, Milius is forced to work alone - with no back-up, no support, and no one to save him should something go wrong.


And in an operation like this, something is certain to go wrong. Horribly wrong.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Alec Milius, the protagonist of Cumming's well-received first novel, A Spy by Nature(2007), has created a new life in Madrid working as a researcher for a British private bank in this sterling sequel. His former employer, MI6, dismissed him in disgrace after a plot against the CIA went wrong. Alec lives alone, constantly watching for agents from his past who he thinks are intent on hunting him down and exacting revenge. He's having an affair with his boss's wife, drinks too much and is consumed by regret and guilt. When his boss, Julian Church, sends him to Basque country on a project, he meets Mikel Arenaza, a former member of the ETA, the Basque separatist party, who quickly turns up dead. The plot is pleasingly convoluted, the twists unexpected, the characters flawed and interesting. This is spy fiction of the highest order; Cumming deserves to be ranked with the best of the genre's practitioners. (Nov.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

The Basque nationalists at the heart of this thriller have passionate justifications for their cause, but the new labels of international terrorism in 2003 alter the power balance and enemies lurk everywhere. Drummed out of the MI6 corps six years earlier for a botched operation, young Alec Milius is now doing due diligence work in Madrid when odd and intriguing situations pile up, and suddenly he is at the heart of a plot that inflames his spying appetites and ambitions. Even after Alec is tortured and punished for his curiosity, he continues to pick at the clues hoping to salvage some private satisfactions for a job well done. Notable for its heightened psychological cat-and-mouse play, this second Milius title (after A Spy by Nature ) will build Cumming's reputation as a literary spymaster to reckon with-comparison with early John le CarrA© is not out of line. An added bonus is the masterly description of Madrid and Basque country complete with wine and dine notes. A well-crafted and necessary purchase for espionage fiction collections in all public libraries.-Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA

From the Publisher
Praise for The Spanish Game:

 

"This is spy fiction of the highest order; Cumming deserves to be ranked with the best of the genre's practitioners."

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 

"A convincing character study of an imperfect spy...engrossing."

Daily Telegraph (London)

 

"A cracking good spy thriller...the serpentine twists and unflaggingly realistic suspense leave you breathless, but spellbound."

 — Daily Mail (London)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429951548
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
02/22/2010
Series:
Alec Milius , #2
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
102,160
File size:
1 MB

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

CHARLES CUMMING is the author of international bestseller, A Spy by Nature. A former British Secret Service recruit, he is a contributing editor to The Week magazine and lives in London.


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

Read an Excerpt


1
Exile
The door leading into the hotel is already open and I walk through it into a low, wide lobby. Two South American teenagers are playing Gameboys on a sofa near reception, kicking back in hundred-dollar trainers while Daddy picks up the bill. The older of them swears loudly in Spanish and then catches his brother square on the knot of his shoulder with a dead arm that makes him wince in pain. A passing waiter looks down, shrugs, and empties an ashtray at their table. There’s a general atmosphere of listless indifference, of time passing by to no end, the prerush lull of late afternoons.
“Buenas tardes, señor.”
The receptionist is wide shouldered and artificially blond and I play the part of a tourist, making no effort to speak to her in Spanish.
“Good afternoon. I have a reservation here today.”
“The name, sir?”
“Alec Milius.”
“Yes, sir.”
She ducks down and taps something into a computer. Then there’s a smile, a little nod of recognition, and she writes down my details on a small piece of card.
“The reservation was made over the Internet?”
“That’s right.”
“Could I see your passport please, sir?”
Five years ago, almost to the day, I spent my first night in Madrid at this same hotel; a twenty-eight-year-old industrial spy on the run from the UK with $189,000 lodged in five separate bank accounts, using three passports and a forged British driving licence for ID. On that occasion I handed a Lithuanian passport issued to me in Paris in August 1997 to the clerk behind the desk. The hotel may have a record of this on their system, so I’m using it again.
“You are from Vilnius?” the receptionist asks.
“My grandfather was born there.”
“Well, breakfast is between seven thirty and eleven o’clock and you have it included as part of your rate.” It is as if she has no recollection of having asked the question. “Is it just yourself staying with us?”
“Just myself.”
My luggage consists of a suitcase filled with old newspapers and a leather briefcase containing some toiletries, a laptop computer, and two of my three mobile phones. We’re not planning to stay in the room for more than a few hours. A porter is summoned from across the lobby and he escorts me to the lifts at the back of the hotel. He’s short and tanned and genial in the manner of low-salaried employees badly in need of a tip. His English is rudimentary, and it’s tempting to break into Spanish just to make the conversation more lively.
“This is being your first time in Madrid, yes?”
“Second, actually. I visited two years ago.”
“For the bullfights?”
“On business.”
“You don’t like the corrida?”
“It’s not that. I just didn’t have the time.”
The room is situated halfway down a long, Barton Fink corridor on the third floor. The porter uses a credit-card-sized pass key to open the door and places my suitcase on the ground. The lights are operated by inserting the key in a narrow horizontal slot outside the bathroom door, although I know from experience that a credit card works just as well; anything narrow enough to trigger the switch will do the trick. The room is a reasonable size, perfect for our needs, but as soon as I am inside I frown and make a show of looking disappointed and the porter duly asks if everything is all right.
“It’s just that I asked for a room with a view over the square. Could you see at the desk if it would be possible to change?”
Back in 1998, as an overt target conscious of being watched by both American and British intelligence, I ran basic countersurveillance measures as soon as I arrived at the hotel, searching for microphones and hidden cameras. Five years later, I am either wiser or lazier; the simple last-minute switch of room negates any need to sweep. The porter has no choice but to return to reception and within ten minutes I have been assigned a new room on the fourth floor with a clear view over Plaza de Santa Ana. After a quick shower I put on a dressing gown, turn down the air-conditioning, and try to make the room look less functional by folding up the bedspread, placing it in a cupboard, and opening the net curtains so that the decent February light can flood in. It’s cold outside, but I stand briefly on the balcony looking out over the square. A neat line of denuded chestnut trees runs east toward the Teatro de España where a young African man is selling counterfeit CDs from a white sheet spread out on the pavement. In the distance I can see the edge of the Parque Retiro and the roofs of the taller buildings on Calle de Alcalá. It’s a typical midwinter afternoon in Madrid: high blue skies, a brisk wind whipping across the square, sunlight on my face. Turning back into the room I pick up one of the mobiles and dial her number from memory.
“Sofía?”
“Hola, Alec.”
“I’m in.”
“What is the number of the room?”
“Cuatrocientos ocho. Just walk straight through the lobby. There’s nobody there and they won’t stop you or ask any questions. Keep to the left. The elevators are at the back. Fourth floor.”
“Is everything OK?”
“Everything’s OK.”
“Vale,” she says. Fine. “I’ll be there in an hour.”
Excerpted from The Spanish Game by .
Copyright © 2006 by Charles Cumming.
Published in December 2008 by St. Martin’s Press.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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