The last book I read in 100 words: The Spanish Game by Charles Cumming

by Stephen Tall on September 20, 2012

The Spanish Game, Charles Cumming

Perhaps I’m just not a spy novel reader? After all, I tried Le CarrĂ© and found it dull. And now I’ve tried the author cited as his latter-day incarnation, and (I’m sorry) but I failed again.

To be fair, The Spanish Game is an entertaining enough read. I read it while in Spain, and Cumming (who has lived there) is spot-on in capturing the Madrilenian essence as well as conjuring an oppressively claustrophobic atmosphere. The plot is detailed and thorough — involving a disappearing Basque politician, ETA and some old foes — with protagonist Alec Milius doing his Bourne/Ripley/Smiley thing.

I found it hard to care for the characters and the-big-reveal-ending just felt too contrived. But (undeniably) there are twists, there are turns, there are thrills, there are spills — all of which may mean, if espionage is your bag, this is the Perfect Spy for you.