A Colder War by Charles Cumming A Colder War by Charles Cumming
Narrator: Jot Davies
Series: Amelia Levene #2
Published by Macmillan Audio on August 5, 2014
Source: Library
Genres: Spy Thriller
Length: 12 hrs 2 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon
Add on Goodreads

A top-ranking Iranian military official is blown up while trying to defect to the West. An investigative journalist is arrested and imprisoned for writing an article critical of the Turkish government. An Iranian nuclear scientist is assassinated on the streets of Tehran. These three incidents, seemingly unrelated, have one crucial link. Each of the three had been recently recruited by Western intelligence, before being removed or killed.

Then Paul Wallinger, MI6’s most senior agent in Turkey, dies in a puzzling plane crash. Fearing the worst, MI6 bypasses the usual protocol and brings disgraced agent Tom Kell in from the cold to investigate. Kell soon 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.

Maybe it was a mistake to listen to this one so soon after The Cairo Affair since they are both spy thrillers, but I found A Colder War more annoying than anything. You have Kell, a train agent in his 40s who knows the game, knows the people, knows how it all works. You have Amelia, his boss, who has called him back to look into Wollinger’s death and then do some searching for the mole. She’s obviously intelligent, and also, we’re told, his actual friend. So far, so good. Amelia’s keeping info from Kell, but he’s doing the same things. They can’t trust the Americans, but have to pretend to cooperate with them. Standard spy stuff and it could have been a good thriller.

Until The Girl enters the picture and Kell apparently loses his mind. He becomes obsessed, or “in love,” and stops thinking clearly. And I just wanted to smack him.  It’s obviously not going to be in his best interest to have his mind so focused on her and not on his life or death job. Yes, he accomplishes his mission, but I didn’t really care.

The narrator was fine. In all honesty, if I had been reading it instead of listening to it, it probably would have been a DNF. As it was, the narrator at least kept me interested enough to waste my time with it.


About Charles Cumming

Charles Cumming is British writer of spy fiction. His international bestselling thrillers including A Spy By Nature, The Spanish Game, Typhoon and The Trinity Six. A former British Secret Service recruit, he is a contributing editor of The Week magazine and lives in London.