Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Trinity Six

The Trinity Six
by Charles Cumming
St. Martin's, 2011. 356 pgs. Fiction

Sam Gaddis is a professor of Russian and well-regarded author of books Russian history and biography, but he is also broke. Then a journalist friend promises to share a blockbuster story with him; namely, the discovery of a sixth member of the notorious Cambridge Five World War II spy ring. Seeing his chance to pay off his bills, Sam agrees to work with her but before they can get a proper start, she has a heart attack and dies--at least, that's what Sam thinks happened, but the reader knows she was poisoned by a Russian agent. Charlotte's husband gives Sam permission to continue with the investigation and he meets with a man who knows a man who confirms the story. Trouble is, almost everyone who talks to Sam winds up dead. Soon MI5 is involved and Sam can't tell whether he is being chased by the Russians or his own countrymen. The Trinity Six is an excellent, convoluted spy story, though one might like Sam a bit better if he weren't so naive in his expectations of outwitting the professionals and if he weren't so concerned with saving his own skin that he doesn't seem to mind how many other people he puts in the crosshairs. Still his smarts who up big at the end of the story when he contrives an elegant solution to his and others' problems, although it may be that the sixth man is not quite done with his mischief . . . .

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