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BOX 88: From the Top 10 Sunday Times best selling author comes a new spy action crime thriller: Book 1

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Now the director of BOX 88 operations in the UK, Kite discovers he has been placed on the ‘JUDAS’ list – a record of enemies of Russia who have been targeted for assassination. Kite’s fight for survival takes him to Dubai, where he must confront the Russian secret state head on… Kite’s story is told from two perspectives: that of the older, experienced operative, decades into his career as a spy; and that of Kite as an 18 year old, on his first mission. I thought the juxtaposition of the spy “origin story” on the one hand, and the supremely talented operative on the other worked extremely well, and over the course of the novel we get a pretty great portrait of Kite, his work, and his evolution as a person and spy.

I rarely use the phrase ‘unputdownable’ but this book fits the cliche. Well-drawn characters, a pacy plot full of twists, turns and heart accelerating suspense with a very plausible and likeable (both at 18 and when older) narrator.What a read! A blend of John le Carre, William Boyd and Rory Clements (Wilde series) at their best with a twist of something different - a truly winning combination. I started reading on Friday evening and had finished by Saturday lunchtime (with some time for sleeping!). Box 88 by Charles Cumming is an outstanding espionage novel which is is superbly written has an excellent main underlying storyline and well drawn out main and supporting characters.

Ongoing Covid restrictions, reduced air and freight capacity, high volumes and winter weather conditions are all impacting transportation and local delivery across the globe. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and thought the transition between then and now was masterfully handled with the action playing out seemingly in real time in both time points. Although the story of then was being told at least in part under interrogation it did not come across that way and made it flow so much better than if interspersed with lots of questioning and/or torture. MI5 hear rumours of BOX 88’s existence and go after Kite – but Iranian intelligence have got to him first. Taken captive and brutally tortured, Kite has a choice: reveal the truth about what happened in France thirty years earlier – or watch his family die.I have never come across Charles Cumming before however I will now be looking out for any books by him.

Charles Cumming is rapidly becoming my favourite writer of espionage novels and this is surely one of his best. Long time readers of CR will know that I am a big fan of Charles Cumming’s spy thrillers. Ever since Typhoon, I’ve eagerly anticipated each new novel from the author. Box 88 was no different, and I’m very happy to report that it lived up to my high expectations. Really enjoyed this. MI5 hear rumours of BOX 88’s existence and go after Kite – only for Iranian intelligence to get to him first. Taken captive and subjected to torture, Kite is presented with a simple choice: reveal the truth about what happened in France thirty years earlier – or watch his family die.We’re first introduced to Lachlan Kite when he attends the funeral of his one-time close friends. We know little of him other than the fact that he works for a secret group collected from former members of British and American intelligence agencies. The team call themselves Box 88 and their aim is to ensure that the conflicting goals of whatever government happens to be in power do not prevent the ‘right’ sort of operations being undertaken. But soon Kite finds himself in peril and with no means of communicating with his team.

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