Charles Cumming - Author

About the Author

Charles Cumming was our Guest Editor in March 2013 - click here - to see the books that inspired his writing.

Charles Cumming was born in Scotland in 1971. He has been described as ‘the man who most successfully gets under the skin of Britain’s intelligence agencies’ (The Times). In the summer of 1995, he was approached for recruitment by the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). A year later he moved to Montreal where he began working on a novel based on his experiences with MI6, and A Spy by Nature was published in the UK in 2001.

 

Author photo © Toby Madden

Featured books by Charles Cumming

A Divided Spy

A Divided Spy

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/05/2017

Simply fabulous. ‘A Divided Spy’ slices through theatrics and pierces the essential heart of a spy thriller. This is the third in the ‘Thomas Kell’ series, yet my first, and I found it could be read perfectly as a standalone novel. I will definitely nab a copy of the first two, as I forgot I was in reviewing mode and just disappeared into Thomas Kell’s world. The former MI6 officer is seeking revenge, his chance comes when he attempts to recruit a Russian agent, however the small matter of a potential terrorist attack interrupts his personal vendetta. Charles Cumming has won a number of prestigious awards, his writing is subtly powerful, and so very very readable. The terror plot made my mind flinch as it bit with daunting intensity, it felt honest and substantially real. Superbly crafted, ‘A Divided Spy’ weaves a powerful and thrilling web of political intrigue and game playing, and I highly recommend it.

eBooks of the Month
A Colder War

A Colder War

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/01/2015

In his splendid previous spy thriller A Foreign Country, Cumming introduced once-disgraced and now covertly back in the fold operative Thomas Kell and MI6’s first female head Amelia Levene. In his new book, they both appear again. Following the mysterious death of Turkey’s Head of Station the remaining evidence points Tom to a traitor inside Western Intelligence. Kell’s task of unravelling the conspiracy is not made any easier by disturbing news emerging from Levene’s own past. Tom Kell is more Smiley than James Bond and his adventures ring terribly true and easily sow many seeds of doubt about the undercurrent of world affairs in a disturbing perspective in this much up to date thriller. Cumming knows his stuff. ~ Maxim Jakubowski   Sarah Broadhurst's view... A cracking story with all the ingredients of a Le Carré Smiley novel and then some!  It is the second work to feature Thomas Kell, a disgraced spy introduced to us in A Foreign Country.  It is up-to-date in dealing with the Irish question and although not quite so with Ukraine, it does give a good background to the present situation in a great adventure of cover-up, duplicity, betrayal and double agents.  All very tense, complex and satisfying, it is a very fine spy novel indeed.   Click here to view the new editions of The Hidden Man and Typhoon by the same author.

eBooks of the Month
A Foreign Country

A Foreign Country

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/03/2013

One of our Books of the Year 2013. This is another first-rate crime novel, perfect for fans of John le Carre, from an author who is establishing himself as the pre-eminent writer of the modern spy thriller. The soon to be head of MI6 goes missing and a disgraced ex-spy is approached to find her without the news of her disappearance becoming public knowledge. We were hooked!   April 2013 Book of the Month.     In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for A Foreign Country a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'A pacey read, with lots of plot twists and action to keep the pages turning...' - Catherine Humphris. Scroll down to read more reviews.   Winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2012.   Charles Cumming said "For spy writers, the Steel Dagger is our Booker prize, so I'm thrilled to have won such a prestigious award. Some great writers have picked up the Steel Dagger, including Henry Porter, Dan Fesperman and Tom Rob Smith. I'm honoured to have joined their ranks."   CWA Judges' comment: “Contemporary spy thriller. Gripping premise, expertly sustained, lots of believable spycraft and memorable supporting characters.”   Winner of the Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year 2012.   For some further intrigue, click here to see The Trinity Six by the same author.  

eBooks of the Month
A Spy by Nature

A Spy by Nature

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/03/2012

A Spy By Nature is the bestselling novel with which Charles Cumming announced his arrival as heir apparent to masters like John le Carre and Len Deighton; compellingly told, utterly authentic and heart-racingly intense, it will grip you till the very last page.

eBooks of the Month
The Spanish Game

The Spanish Game

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/03/2012

A vivid and gripping novel which sees Alec Milius coaxed back into the secret world to face the uncontainable danger of 21st century terrorism!

eBooks of the Month
The Trinity Six

The Trinity Six

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/09/2011

Longisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2011. Europe is still littered with the darkest secrets of the Cold War. And the most deadly revelation of them all is about to be made when Gaddis, a Russia expert stumbles across the existence of a further protagonist in the Cambridge spy ring of the 1950s involving Burgess, Maclean and Philby. Both Moscow and MI6 will use everything in their power to keep their fragile peace intact. But why murder people to hide secrets that should by now be history? Gaddis starts to understand - far too late - that he is closing in on a discovery that will shake Europe to its foundations!   September 2011 Book of the Month.     If you like Charles Cumming try John Le CarreMaxim Jakubowski recommends: Our Kind of Traitor by John le Carre

Books of the Month
BOX 88

BOX 88

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/05/2021

An organisation that doesn't exist. A spy that can't be caught. Years ago, a spy was born... 1989: The Cold War will soon be over, but for BOX 88, a top secret spying agency, the espionage game is heating up. Lachlan Kite is sent to France to gather intelligence on the Lockerbie bombing. What he uncovers is terrifying... Now he faces the deadliest decision of his life... 2020: Kite has been taken captive and brutally tortured. He now has a choice: reveal the truth about what happened in France thirty years earlier - or watch his family die. In a battle unlike anything he has faced before, Kite must use all his skills to stay alive. 'A spy for the 21st century'Daily Mail, Books of the Year 'Wonderfully taut, exciting and up-to-date'Spectator, Books of the Year 'An ambitious fusion of coming-of-age novel and gripping espionage thriller'Financial Times, Books of the Year 'BOX 88 is so good. Charles Cumming is up there with the very best espionage writers' Ian Rankin 'A wonderful spy novel; Charles Cumming's most ambitious - and his best - yet' Mick Herron 'Charles Cumming has breathed new life into the spy novel' Ben Macintyre 'Atmospheric and full of sharply realised characters' Sunday Times 'A clever thriller' Sun 'Intelligence, grace, and stunning verisimilitude' Gregg Hurwitz 'An engaging hero' James Swallow 'All the hallmarks of the finest spy thriller' Charlotte Philby 'Sharp-eyed and satisfying' Henry Porter 'A great new spy hero is born' Amanda Craig 'Ideal for anyone nostalgic for their first love and the whiff of Marlboro Lights' The Times

Audiobooks of the Month

Other books by Charles Cumming

JUDAS 62

JUDAS 62

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/09/2021

The second book in Charles Cumming's gripping new thriller series surrounding BOX 88 - a covert intelligence organization that operates below the radar. A spy in one of the most dangerous places on Earth... 1993: Student Lachlan Kite is sent to post-Soviet Russia in the guise of a language teacher. In reality, he is there as a spy. Top secret intelligence agency BOX 88 has ordered Kite to extract a chemical weapons scientist before his groundbreaking research falls into the wrong hands. But Kite's mission soon goes wrong and he is left stranded in a hostile city with a former KGB officer on his trail. An old enemy looking for revenge... 2020: Now the director of BOX 88 operations in the UK, Kite discovers he has been placed on the 'JUDAS' list - a record of enemies of Russia who have been targeted for assassination. Kite's fight for survival takes him to Dubai, where he must confront the Russian secret state head on... Who will come out on top in this deadly game of cat and mouse? 'The storytelling is first-rate, with all the minutiae of spycraft, sense of place and memorable supporting characters you could wish for' Sunday Times 'The first Kite novel was excellent, but this is even better...evokes the world of espionage in a way the late John le Carre would have much admired' Daily Mail 'Some of the best writing around on the intricacies of spycraft and the high price agents pay for doing their job' Sun

BOX 88

BOX 88

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/10/2020

An organisation that doesn't exist. A spy that can't be caught. Years ago, a spy was born... 1989: The Cold War will soon be over, but for BOX 88, a top secret spying agency, the espionage game is heating up. Lachlan Kite, recruited from an elite boarding school, is sent to France, tasked with gathering intelligence on an enigmatic Iranian businessman implicated in the Lockerbie bombing. But what Kite uncovers is more terrifying than anyone expected... Now he faces the deadliest decision of his life... 2020: MI5 hear rumours of BOX 88's existence and go after Kite - but Iranian intelligence have got to him first. Taken captive and brutally tortured, Kite has a choice: reveal the truth about what happened in France thirty years earlier - or watch his family die. In a battle unlike anything he has faced before, Kite must use all his skills to stay alive. 'A spy for the 21st century'Daily Mail, Books of the Year 'Wonderfully taut, exciting and up-to-date'Spectator, Books of the Year 'An ambitious fusion of coming-of-age novel and gripping espionage thriller'Financial Times, Books of the Year 'BOX 88 is so good. Charles Cumming is up there with the very best espionage writers' Ian Rankin 'A wonderful spy novel; Charles Cumming's most ambitious - and his best - yet' Mick Herron 'Charles Cumming has breathed new life into the spy novel' Ben Macintyre 'Atmospheric and full of sharply realised characters' Sunday Times 'A clever thriller' Sun 'Intelligence, grace, and stunning verisimilitude' Gregg Hurwitz 'An engaging hero' James Swallow 'All the hallmarks of the finest spy thriller' Charlotte Philby 'Sharp-eyed and satisfying' Henry Porter 'A great new spy hero is born' Amanda Craig 'Ideal for anyone nostalgic for their first love and the whiff of Marlboro Lights' The Times

The Man Between

The Man Between

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/05/2019

'Recommended. I read it one breathless sitting' Ian Rankin A gripping new standalone spy thriller, recalling the classic film Casablanca, from the winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for Best Thriller of the Year and 'the master of the modern spy thriller' (Mail on Sunday). A SIMPLE TASK Successful novelist Kit Carradine has grown restless. So when British Intelligence invites him to enter the secret world of espionage, he willingly takes a leap into the unknown. A GLOBAL THREAT Kit finds himself in Morocco on the trail of Lara Bartok - a leading figure in Resurrection, a revolutionary movement whose brutal attacks on right-wing politicians have spread violence throughout the West. A DANGEROUS TARGET Drawn to Lara, but caught between competing intelligence services who want her dead, Kit faces an awful choice: abandon her to her fate or risk everything trying to save her. 'An instant classic of the genre' Mick Herron 'The Man Between is up there with the best - full of thrills, wit and fine writing' Peter Robinson

Man Between

Man Between

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Ebook Release Date: 29/05/2018

He risked it all to become a spy. Now he must pay the price. A gripping new standalone spy thriller from the winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for Best Thriller of the Year and 'the master of the modern spy thriller' (Mail on Sunday). One simple task for British Intelligence takes him into a world of danger. Successful novelist Kit Carradine has grown restless. So when British Intelligence invites him to enter the secret world of espionage, he willingly takes a leap into the unknown. But the glamour of being a spy is soon tainted by fear and betrayal, as Carradine finds himself in Morocco on the trail of Lara Bartok ? a mysterious fugitive with links to international terrorism. Bartok is a leading figure in Resurrection, a violent revolutionary movement whose brutal attacks on prominent right-wing politicians have spread hatred and violence throughout the West. As the coils of a ruthless plot tighten around him, Carradine finds himself drawn to Lara. Caught between competing intelligence services who want her dead, he soon faces an awful choice: to abandon Lara to her fate or to risk everything trying to save her.

Spanish Game

Spanish Game

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Ebook Release Date: 26/04/2018

A vivid and gripping novel from 'the master of the modern spy thriller' (Mail on Sunday) which sees Alec Milius coaxed back into the secret world to face the uncontainable danger of 21st century terrorism...For six years, Alec Milius has escaped the past. In Madrid, he has rebuilt his life, but remains in exile and in danger.Slightly older, and much wiser, than the young spy who first impressed MI6, he has kept his fatal attraction to secrets. So when a prominent politician mysteriously disappears, Alec is lured back into the spying game.Only this time he operates without the protection of any official agency - isolated and expendable, with nobody to turn to if things go wrong. And they soon do.But when Alec is confronted with the nightmare of modern terrorism, he is given one last chance for redemption...

Spy by Nature

Spy by Nature

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Ebook Release Date: 29/03/2018

Alec Milius is young, smart and ambitious - with a talent for deception. When a chance encounter opens the door to a career with MI6, he is desperate to make his mark. But life as a spy begins to take a terrible toll on himself and those around him, and soon Alec is chasing not just success but survival. Forced to work alone, he spins a web of deceit that traps him centre stage in a game of global espionage. In this new job, the difference between truth and a lie can be a matter of life and death. And for Alec, it's getting harder to tell them apart... A Spy by Nature is the best-selling novel with which Charles Cumming announced his arrival as heir apparent to masters like John le Carre and Len Deighton; compellingly told, utterly authentic and heart-racingly intense, it will grip you until the very end.

Thomas Kell Spy Series, Books 1-3

Thomas Kell Spy Series, Books 1-3

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Ebook Release Date: 12/12/2017

From the internationally acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author of The Trinity Six and Typhoon, the Thomas Kell series is a compelling, revealing tale of deceit and betrayal, conspiracy and redemption. Read the first three books in the series, now available in one ebook. A Foreign CountryOn the vacation of a lifetime in Egypt, an elderly French couple are brutally murdered. Days later, on the streets of Paris, a young French accountant is kidnapped. When Amelie 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. Tossed out of the Service only months before, Kell is given one final chance to redeem himself and find Amelia Levene at any cost.A Colder WarA top-ranking Iranian military official, an investigative journalist, and an Iranian nuclear scientist are targeted in seemingly unrelated attacks, but they have one crucial link: Each of the three had been recently recruited by Western intelligence, before being removed or killed. When Paul Wallinger, MI6's most senior agent in Turkey, dies in a puzzling plane crash, Tom Kell discovers what Wallinger had already begun to suspect-that there's a mole somewhere in the Western intelligence, a traitor who has been systematically sabotaging scores of joint intelligence operations in the Middle East. A Divided SpyTom Kell is offered an unexpected chance at revenge. Taking the law into his own hands, he embarks on a mission to recruit a top Russian spy who is in possession of a terrifying secret. As Kell tracks his man from Moscow to London, he finds himself in a high stakes game of cat and mouse in which it becomes increasingly difficult to know who is playing whom. As the mission reaches boiling point, the threat of a catastrophic terrorist attack looms over Britain, and Kell is faced with an impossible choice. Loyalty to MI6-or to his own conscience?

Alec Milius Spy Series: Books 1 & 2

Alec Milius Spy Series: Books 1 & 2

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Ebook Release Date: 07/11/2017

The first two books in the richly atmospheric and chillingly plausible Alec Milius series announced the arrival of Charles Cumming as heir apparent to masters like John le Carre and Len Deighton. A SPY BY NATUREAlec Milius is young, smart, and ambitious. He also has a talent for deception. He is working in a dead-end job when a chance encounter leads him to MI6, the elite British Secret Intelligence Service, handing him an opportunity to play center-stage in a dangerous game of espionage. In his new line of work, Alec finds that the difference between the truth and a lie can mean the difference between life and death--and he is having trouble telling them apart. Caught between British and American Intelligence, Alec finds himself threatened and alone, unable to confide in even his closest friend. His life as a spy begins to exact a terrible price, both on himself and on those around him.A SPY BY NATURE tells the gripping story of a young man driven by ruthless ambition who finds himself chasing not just success, but survival.THE SPANISH GAMESix years ago, Alec Milius was released by MI6 after a disastrous operation. His world shattered, Milius has been living in Madrid, attempting to quietly 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. 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.

Divided Spy: A gripping espionage thriller from the master of the modern spy novel (Thomas Kell Spy Thriller, Book 3)

Divided Spy: A gripping espionage thriller from the master of the modern spy novel (Thomas Kell Spy Thriller, Book 3)

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Ebook Release Date: 02/06/2016

A Sunday Times top ten bestseller, perfect for fans of THE NIGHT MANAGER, from the winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for Best Thriller of the Year and 'the master of the modern spy thriller' (Mail on Sunday).Thomas Kell thought he was done with spying. A former MI6 officer, he devoted his life to the Service, but all it has left him with is grief and a simmering anger against the Kremlin.Then Kell is offered an unexpected chance at revenge. Taking the law into his own hands, he embarks on a mission to recruit the Russian spy he blames for the murder of his girlfriend.Kell tracks his nemesis from Kiev to London, but soon finds himself in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse in which it becomes increasingly difficult to know who is playing whom.

Hidden Man

Hidden Man

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Ebook Release Date: 10/11/2015

Christopher Keen, once a master spy, is murdered in cold blood. His sons Mark and Benjamin, though they hadn't seen their father for over twenty years, are now drawn into the legacy of his life as a spy as they set out to discover the truth and avenge their father's death. But as their search proceeds, more questions arise-is Christopher's death connected to his past life in MI6? Was his eldest son involved in a conspiracy that links him to Moscow, Afghanistan, and the Russian mafia? Bestselling author Charles Cumming delivers in The Hidden Man a thriller that delves into the complicated double lives of spies, and what happens when their half-told secrets die with them.

Complete Spy Thrillers: A Colder War, A Foreign Country, The Trinity Six, Typhoon, The Spanish Game, The Hidden Man and A Spy by Nature

Complete Spy Thrillers: A Colder War, A Foreign Country, The Trinity Six, Typhoon, The Spanish Game, The Hidden Man and A Spy by Nature

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Ebook Release Date: 11/12/2014

THE COMPLETE COLLECTION OF SPY THRILLERS FROM CHARLES CUMMING - WINNER OF THE CWA IAN FLEMING STEEL DAGGER 2012 FOR BEST THRILLER OF THE YEAR. Perfect for fans of John le Carre, Charles Cumming is 'the master of the modern spy thriller' (Mail on Sunday)Read the complete spy thriller collection from award-winning author Charles Cumming. Including:The Alec Milius novels, A SPY BY NATURE and THE SPANISH GAME.The Thomas Kell novels, A FOREIGN COUNTRY and A COLDER WAR.Standalone spy thrillers, THE TRINITY SIX, TYPHOON and THE HIDDEN MAN.

Colder War

Colder War

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Ebook Release Date: 24/04/2014

Perfect for fans of John le Carre, a gripping and suspenseful spy novel from `the master of the modern spy thriller' (Mail on Sunday)MI6's Head of Station in Turkey is killed in a mysterious plane crash. Amelia Levene, chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, wants the incident investigated - quickly and quietly.The only man she can trust is Thomas Kell, a disgraced spy searching for redemption.Arriving in Istanbul, Kell discovers that MI6 operations in the region have been fatally compromised: a traitor inside Western Intelligence threatens not just the Special Relationship, but the security of the entire Middle East.Kell's search for the mole takes him from London, to Greece, and into Eastern Europe. But when Kell is betrayed by those closest to him, the stakes become personal. He will do anything to see this operation through - including putting himself, and others, in the line of fire...

The Hidden Man

The Hidden Man

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/04/2014

From the winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2012 for Best Thriller of the Year comes a gripping and suspenseful spy novel. Perfect for fans of John le Carre, Charles Cumming is 'the master of the modern spy thriller' (Mail on Sunday) Mark and Benjamin Keen have not seen their father, Christopher, for more than twenty years. Hoping for a reconciliation, Christopher reappears, but he has only just begun to shed light on his life in the secret service when he is murdered in cold blood by an unidentified assassin. Was his death connected to his MI6 past? Did Christopher uncover a dangerous conspiracy involving his elder son? And what were his links to Moscow, Afghanistan and the Russian mafia in London? To discover the truth - and avenge their father's death - the brothers are drawn into the legacy of his life as a spy. And inheritance can be deadly...

Foreign Country

Foreign Country

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Ebook Release Date: 29/03/2012

Winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2012 for Best Thriller of the Year. Selected by Sunday Times Books of the Year and The Guardian as Best Thriller of the Year. Perfect for fans of John le Carre, a gripping and suspenseful spy thriller from `the master of the modern spy thriller' (Mail on Sunday)Six weeks before she is due to take up her position as the first female head of MI6, Amelia Levene vanishes without a trace.Her disappearance is the gravest crisis MI6 has faced for more than a decade. There has been no ransom demand, no word from foreign intelligence services, no hint of a defection.Should news of Levene's disappearance leak out, the consequences would be catastrophic. But for disgraced MI6 officer Thomas Kell, the crisis offers a chance for redemption. He is approached by his former employers and ordered to find her.Kell's search takes him first to France, then North Africa, where he discovers an extraordinary secret hidden deep in Levene's past. it is a secret that could fatally compromise Britain's national security - and for which Kell could pay with his life.This is another first-rate intelligent thriller which will cement Cumming's reputation as one of the most engaging British novelists writing today.

Trinity Six

Trinity Six

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Ebook Release Date: 03/02/2011

Europe is still littered with the darkest secrets of the Cold War. And the most deadly revelation of them all is about to be made...Hard-up Russia expert Dr Sam Gaddis finally has a lead for a book that could set his career back on track. He has staggering new information about an unknown sixth member of the infamous Cambridge spy ring - a man who has evaded detection for his entire life.But when his source suddenly dies, Gaddis is left with just shreds of his investigation, and no idea that he is already in too deep. He is threatened, betrayed, hunted - and alone. To get his life back, he must scour a continent still laced with lies to find the truth behind the Trinity Six.Both Moscow and MI6 will use everything in their power to keep their fragile peace intact. But why murder people to hide secrets that should by now be history? Gaddis starts to understand - far too late - that he is closing in on a discovery that will shake Europe to its foundations...

Alec Milius Spy Series Books 1 and 2: A Spy By Nature, The Spanish Game

Alec Milius Spy Series Books 1 and 2: A Spy By Nature, The Spanish Game

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Ebook Release Date: 03/02/2011

This ebook omnibus edition brings together Charles Cumming's two classic Alex Milius novels, also offering readers a sample of his following novel The Trinity Six.A SPY BY NATUREAlec Milius is young, smart, ambitious and comfortable with deceit. So when a chance encounter leads him to MI6, Alec thinks he's landed the perfect job for his talents. But working alone, relying on instinct, he's soon spinning a web of deception that has him caught between his new masters and powerful opponents. For in his new line of work the difference between the truth and a lie can be the difference between life and death. And Alec is having trouble telling them apart ...THE SPANISH GAMEAlec Milius quit the spying game six years ago - or so he thought.Living in exile in Madrid, he is lured back into a brutal world of lies and deception by the mysterious disappearance of a prominent politician. Forced to work alone, without the support of his former masters in London, Alec comes face to face with the nightmare of modern terror. And this time there's no-one to call for help...