A worthy spy story that foretells more good reading to come

good reading: A Spy by Nature by Charles Cumminggood reading: A Spy by Nature by Charles Cumming A Spy by Nature, Charles Cumming’s first novel, is the semi-autobiographical precursor several subsequent espionage stories that have caught the attention of reviewers and the reading public alike. The Trinity Six, the most recent, was a deft and ingenious reimagining of the familiar story of the five aristocratic Cambridge graduates whose greatest fame came when they defected to the Soviet Union after many years of undercover work in Britain.


A Spy by Nature by Charles Cumming

@@@@ (4 out of 5)


In A Spy by Nature, Cumming tells a version of his own story as a recruit to the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). His protagonist, Alec Milius, is a 24-year-old underperformer in London who devotes three months to testing and interviews preparatory to joining MI6, only to be rejected. The consolation prize is a job as a “support agent,” a species of contractor, who is placed in a British oil company with the assignment to infiltrate its American competitor and feed it disinformation.

As Alec’s story unfolds, he finds himself more and more deeply enmeshed in a web of distrust and betrayal that brings out the worst in him — and generates tragic consequences. Cumming’s portrayal of his alter ego is utterly convincing, and the story brings to light an increasingly important aspect of latter-day espionage in the post-Cold War Era: industrial espionage.

A Spy by Nature is an entirely worthy antecedent of Cumming’s later, more fully realized spy stories.

For further reading

This is just one of Charles Cumming’s first-rate spy thrillers.

You might also enjoy my posts:

If you enjoy reading history in fictional form, check out 20 most enlightening historical novels (plus dozens of runners-up). And if you’re looking for exciting historical novels, check out Top 10 historical mysteries and thrillers reviewed here (plus 100 others).

Spread The Word!
Spies in conflict in contemporary Europe | Mal Warwick's Blog on Books - 8 years ago

[…] the sixth spy novel Charles Cumming has written since 2001. In this blog I have previously reviewed A Spy by Nature (the first of the six),  The Spanish Game, The Trinity Six, and Typhoon. (Links will take you to […]

Spies in conflict in contemporary Europe | Mal Warwick's Blog on Books - 8 years ago

[…] the sixth spy novel Charles Cumming has written since 2001. In this blog I have previously reviewed A Spy by Nature (the first of the six),  The Spanish Game, The Trinity Six, and Typhoon. (Links will take you to […]

Comments are closed