Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Review of The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming (2011, Harper)
At the heart of The Trinity Six are two compelling premises: that there was a sixth Cambridge-recruited Russian spy working at the heart of British intelligence, and that Platov (a thinly disguised Putin) has a dark secret that would topple him and which needs protecting at any cost. The plot cleverly twists these in and around each other, providing a compelling reason for the danger in Gaddis’ investigation. The novel unfolds as a pretty conventional spy thriller (including Gaddis bedding a much younger woman that seems to be a staple trope of the genre), told in fairly workmanlike prose, unlike the more understated and literary spy stories of Le Carre or Furst. The result is a page-turner, with a number of feints, twists and turns, and a nice building of intrigue and tension. The characterization is nicely observed, if a little clichéd, and Gaddis makes a decent lead as man increasingly out of his depth, trying to use spy tricks picked up from research and popular culture to take on professional spooks. Overall, an entertaining read, with a well constructed plot.