Andrea’s Pick of the Week: Box 88 by Charles Cumming

Spy thriller fans, take note: Box 88 should be on your reading list!

Lachlan Kite is part of Box 88, a spy organization so secret that not even MI6 and the CIA know it exists. (Why the odd name for a spy agency? That gets explained in the book.) When Kite is abducted and interrogated after the funeral of one of his old school friends, he is forced to revisit his very first mission. As an 18-year-old barely out of school, Kite was recruited to spy on an Iranian businessman with links to the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and a potential mass terrorist event in New York. Out of his depth, yet at the same time enthralled by the intrigue, Kite turns out to be pretty good at spying. Nevertheless, he learns quickly that this kind of work will always have consequences.

There’s no James Bond here: no fancy gadgets or glamorous women, just a nuanced story of what spy craft looked like in the late 20th century. It’s not just about espionage either; it’s a coming-of-age story. Kite is trying to figure out who he is, balancing friendship, loyalty and even a new romance with his clandestine activities. Box 88 is a fascinating page-turner, with intriguing settings (London and the south of France) and a good balance of action and introspection. Even better, it’s the first in a new series. Box 88 releases on January 11, so place your hold now.

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