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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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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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 Carre, Olen Steinhauer, and David Ignatius. [See Prepub Alert, 2/12/12; 100,000-copy first printing.] (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Amelia Levene and Thomas Kell, once colleagues as MI6 field agents, have seen their careers move in opposite directions. Amelia is about to become the first woman to head the agency, leapfrogging ambitious but less talented male bureaucrats. Kell has been forced into retirement, scapegoated by those same bureaucrats in the wake of revelations and uproar about torture. Kell is recalled because Amelia abruptly takes a week's leave in the south of France and, even more abruptly, disappears into thin air. Kell's job is to find her. This plot synopsis is mere prelude. Cumming, once recruited to MI6, has fashioned a gripping story of conspiracy, the Arab Spring, MI6 politics, maternal love, and a man with a talent for the clandestine. Amelia and Kell are complex, engaging characters, and Kell's tradecraft will delight espionage lovers. The conspiracy might strain credulity a bit, but stranger things have happened in the Great Game, and Cumming's track record (The Trinity Six, 2011) ensures demand for this one.--Gaughan, Thomas Copyright 2010 Booklist