Cover image of "The Trinity Six," a new spy story

Much of the latter-day literature of espionage is based, directly or indirectly, on the notorious Cambridge Five—young, bright Cambridge men seduced by the lure of Communism as undergraduates during the tumultuous 1930s who spied for the Soviet Union during World War II. Their defection to the USSR following the war created what was arguably the greatest spy scandal in modern history. For many years thereafter, rumors of a “sixth man” continued to roil the waters of the British Secret Intelligence Service. The Trinity Six relates an ingenious story about that sixth man and his longer and even more consequential career.

The protagonist of this tightly written novel is an English scholar of Soviet and modern Russian history named Sam Gaddis. Heavily in debt and under pressure from his ex-wife for more money to support their daughter, Gaddis finds himself facing what seems the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance to learn the truth about the sixth man and publish a best-seller that will cure his financial troubles once and for all. The problem is, nearly everyone Sam talks to ends up dead — and Sam soon finds himself in desperate flight from their killers.

The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming (2011) 421 pages ★★★★★

A brilliant new spy story

The Trinity Six abounds with tension and offers up enough surprises along the way to satisfy a jaded reader of genre fiction. However, like most other spy stories, this book raises a familiar question: why are all the women beautiful? Surely, any Hollywood producer willing to option the novel for the screen could cast the film version any way he wishes!

The Trinity Six is the fourth of Charles Cumming‘s spy novels. The first, A Spy by Nature, loosely based on his recruitment by MI6, appeared in 2001.

For further reading

The author is one of The best spy novelists writing today.

You’ll find this book on The 40 best books of the decade from 2010-19.

This is just one of Charles Cumming’s first-rate spy thrillers. You might also enjoy Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams (American defectors in Moscow mirror the Cambridge Five).

You’ll find this book on my list of The decade’s top 10 historical novels, mysteries & thrillers, and science fiction.

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