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Book Review: The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming

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The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming is a fictional spy thriller focusing on the theory that the Cambridge Five (a ring of English Trinity College students who were spies for Russia — Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, John Cairncross, Anthony Blunt, and Kim Philby) had a sixth member. As always, what gets the politicians is usually never the act, but the cover up.

Dr. Sam Gaddis, a British historian of Russian history, has a problem. He owes a ton of money after his divorce, and his ex-wife, who married a failed restaurateur, is after him for more money for their daughter’s education. A tip falls into Sam’s lap about the possibility of a sixth man to the Cambridge Five. Soon Sam discovers that anyone associated with the story ends up dead. An efficient MI6 officer, whose job was to lead Sam off the case, helps Sam get out of hairy situations in an investigation which could hurt those at the top of their power.

In The Trinity Six, the author takes one of the most notorious, written about spy rings ever and puts his spin on it. In this scenario there was a sixth man to the ring, and the clues of the cover up go all the way up to the top of MI6.

The book is a well conceived and properly thought out story. There are treacheries galore, double agents abound and a big secret which I will not reveal. The author incorporates multifaceted stories of greed, betrayal and deception and the all-too-common realization that political leaders are ruthless, amoral self-serving individuals and not the G-d fearing public servants they paint themselves to be.

There is very little action in the book; hence, it is more a tale of intrigue. The first third of the novel is mostly a back story; however, Mr. Cumming is an intriguing and entertaining author. Sam Gaddis, the protagonist, is an interesting man who has a knack for being in the wrong place at the right time. Come to think of it, it’s a miracle Sam Gaddis survived to the end of the novel.

I found the plot to be a bit too convenient. Information happens to fall into Sam’s lap just at the right time. But I did enjoy the Russian/British interaction, and the person who had the information about the sixth man was a terrific character, complex and interesting. Mr. Cumming’s knowledge and writing talent certainly lends an air of reliability to the scenarios he presents.

Overall this is an enjoyable book; as a sucker for spy novels I thought it was certainly an agreeable work of fiction.

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