Spy by Nature: A Novel

( 41 )

Overview

"Tautly written, cleverly plotted...it reminded me strongly of the early books of John le Carré" -- Robert Harris, author of The Ghost and Fatherland

"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 ...

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A Spy by Nature: A Novel

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Overview

"Tautly written, cleverly plotted...it reminded me strongly of the early books of John le Carré" -- Robert Harris, author of The Ghost and Fatherland

"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 (starred review)

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312366360
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/11/2008
  • Series: Alec Milius Series , #1
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 254,047
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet 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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 41 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(6)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(16)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 41 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 11, 2010

    Not Bad

    I stumbled upon this book by accident. First off, I would say that this is not a typical spy novel (though I haven`t read many of those). The main character, Alec Milius, is more of an antihero, someone that I found very hard to symphatize with. But then again, he seemed more real than most spy heroes are - he seemed like one of us (a God brought down to Earth and crushed to mere human in front of our eyes - hm, I am not sure that we like that).
    The story is also, I would say, slower-paced and less action-packed than the average spy book. I personally didn`t mind that, but I can imagine that some do. That, everyone has to decide for her/himself.
    I liked the author`s style, short, succinct,efficient, it suited the theme very well. Sometimes it could gave read better...but this, I think, was the author`s first novel, so we have to cut him some slack there.
    Anyway, I spent a cozy, rainy day with this book, and I liked it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Good Spy Tale

    When writing a spy novel, the author hopefully looks to be original, thus avoiding what we have already seen many times. Cummings is very original in this one, creating a spy whose perspective is much different than that of the typical guy. Alec Milius is a temporary spy, on probation to see if he can make the grade. But he finds to his dismay and danger that he is being used on many levels. There is the usual deceit and betrayal, but we find it from surprising corners. Given his effort to do something different, Cummings takes chances, and expects the reader to indulge him as he does. In this respect I think he overestimates his reader, as some of his approaches require more patience than most readers can provide.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2009

    Worst Book Ever

    I have never bothered to write a review before, but I had to warn as many people as possible how LAME this book is

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    An underwhelming adventure

    I remember how excited I was to see Star Wars Episode 1. I couldn't wait for the sweet action sequences and all the fun of a good Star Wars movie. What I wasn't ready for was the tedium of dialogue that took up a good half of the movie. Such a disappointment. It¿s exactly how I felt when I finished this book. When I pick up a spy book, I expect a little espionage, a little edge-of-your-seat excitement, and although this book delivered on the former, it failed on the latter. There was such a great deal of character development, that the story seemed to be pushed off to the side. Now don¿t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of character development, but not in replacement of story. There isn¿t even a really good mystery. If the point of this lack of typical spy plot was done purposefully, it should have been made a little more obvious to the reader. It was a decent read, but ultimately left me very unsatisfied with the ending.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2011

    Maybe the worst read ever.....

    I got this as a "Free Friday" book for my Nook.

    I got what I paid for.....

    I am a big fan of espionage books so this looked like an interesting read.

    The story was disjointed and I really doubt people get killed over an oil field report.

    It was completely unbelievable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 15, 2011

    Not a typical spy novel

    For me, this book was a big yawn. I picked it up because the title suggested an action-packed spy novel - wrong! This book is about the psychosis of a young industrial spy asked to funnel dis-information to an American oil company. Unfortunately, it's devoid of action and way too heavy on the thought process of a young person with an inferiority complex. There is an old adage that says "you can't judge a book by its cover." Oh so true in this case.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 6, 2011

    Tedious snoozefest

    Title says it all.. I wanted to like it, and the first 1/3 showed promise, but there was no tension, no sense of high stakes, no real effective conflict (I felt his inner conflict to be over the top), and a horrible ending...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    terrific espionage thriller

    In London twenty-four years old marketing consultant Alec Milius works for Central European Business Review selling advertising space to the new capitalists in that region. Alec understands the dubious meaninglessness of his vocation, but it pays the bills so even as his theme song is ¿We¿ve Got to Get Out of this Place¿, he feels he has no options if he wants to eat. That is until a member of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) M16 meets him and hires him. As a rookie, they place Alec undercover with a British oil company his real job to support another agent as needed. Alec enjoys the duality of his duplicity until the seemingly safe mission turns dangerous due to double and triple crosses that leave the rookie exposed in the cold with neither friend, family or British and American Intelligence to bring him home safely because he trusts no one. --- A SPY BY NATURE is a terrific espionage thriller that stars a delightful protagonist who gets what he wishes for, a little excitement in his life. However, little turns into Mt. Everest as Alec is caught in a horrific spy vs. spy fiasco caused when the Yanks and the Brits fail at sharing information with both sides of the Anglo-Atlantic wanting to look superior so it costs a SIS tyro his life. Charles Cumming¿s tale will remind readers of TV¿ Secret Agent Man even with a bungling neophyte muddling to survive the dangerous middle. --- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2012

    MESS HALL

    YOU EAT HERE

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2011

    More Cerebral than Action Packed

    While many people might be looking for more action in their spy novels, I liked this book as it was more on the cerebral side.what was driving Alec Milius to make the decisions he did. I found there was enough drama and twists to keep my interest to the very end. I like the author's writing style enough that I will try another of his books.

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  • Posted June 7, 2009

    Junior John LeCarre Wanna-be

    Starts out giving the impression it is going to develop into something intriguing and interesting. Unfortunately, it doesn't. Well-written in parts, but ultimately comes across as more than a bit trivial. Redundanty overdevelops the same social situation. Parts of it are entertaining, however.
    Same central plot device is done much better in "Duplicity", and you get to watch Julia Roberts and Clive Owens. Some tangential spycraft trivia seems to sort of pay homage to LeCarre.

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

    Posted March 15, 2011

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    Posted March 26, 2011

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    Posted September 6, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2011

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    Posted April 5, 2011

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    Posted February 28, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2011

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