Author: Charles Cumming
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition (March 15, 2011)
ISBN-10: 9780312675295:  ISBN-13: 978-0312675295 ASIN: 0312675291

 
British readers were introduced to spy writer Charles Cumming back in 2001 with the publication of his first novel, a Spy by Nature, based loosely on his time in MI6. Four books later, Cumming’s work was finally available in the U.S. in 2008 after he had gained universal acclaim as being among the best of the post-Cold War spy writers working today. By the time his Trinity Six appeared in March 2011, each new Cumming title was eagerly anticipated by critics and fans alike. Gratefully, he has yet to disappoint either.
 
This
time around, Cumming used as a touchstone the most legendary of all the chapters in Cold War duels—the infamous Cambridge Five of Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, and John Cairncross who had all studied at Trinity College, Cambridge. This group has long been explored in literature, films, TV shows and stage plays; it’s clear much of the John Le Carre canon was influenced by these upper-class traitors. Along the way, there’s been speculation about a possible sixth member of the circle and, if there was, what impact would another agent for Moscow have accomplished all those years ago?

 
So, in Trinity Six Cumming ventured into what could have been a realm of clichés. The story revolves around historian Sam Gaddis, an academic in desperate need of money who has a friend who thinks she has a major expose on her hands. But after her death becomes but the first in a string of murders, Gaddis adds even more personal motives to find out the truth of what his friend suspected. He picks up the leads and clues she left behind in seeking a man whose death was faked by British intelligence in 1992.  While an intelligent researcher, Gaddis is naive in the ways of spycraft as he goes on planes, trains, and automobiles from London, Moscow, Vienna, Berlin, Budapest and New Zealand to track down witnesses and contacts. He learns both British and Russian intelligence want secrets buried and every step forward seemingly leaves behind a corpse. After each layer of deception opens a new path, Gaddis finds himself much like a Hitchcockian “Everyman” on the run, running for his life as he discovers the truth that could topple a government—one very much akin to the current Putin regime.
 
While the tropes may be familiar, it’s how Cumming handles the characters and pace that makes The Trinity Six an entertaining read. Sam Gaddis is a sympathetic detective as the story is as much a mystery novel as spy adventure. While some of the red herrings are necessarily contrived, the characters are vividly cast, the situations plausible, and the relationships believable and very human. It’s a suspenseful yarn, a very diverting reworking of the kind of spy fiction most spy lovers love.
 
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