Cover Image: Box 88

Box 88

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Member Reviews

This was such a good read! We meet Lachlan Kite as he learns about the suicide of an old school friend; a friend who in the late '80s invited Lachlan on a family holiday that was to change the course of his life forever. Another family friend, the Iranian businessman Ali Eskandarian, who was also joining the family on holiday, is of great interest to British Intelligence, and they recruit 18-year-old Lachlan straight out of school to join their ranks and spy on the Iranian.

Decades later, Lachlan is kidnapped after his friend's funeral and his captors are only interested in one thing - what did he find out about Ali Eskandrian? This was a really interesting and exciting story that jumped back and forth between the late 80s and the present day. It was fascinating to see how the young Lachlan was first recruited, and exactly how he became the man who is using all of his training and resources to outwit his abductors decades later. 

The supporting cast of characters, both the family on holiday and the modern day MI5 team hunting for Lachlan, are engaging, and there are some nice unexpected turns along the way. The pacing, once the story got going, was just right and certain passages truly had me on the edge of my seat. I loved this book and will definitely be reading the sequel that the cliffhanger at the end promises...

My thanks to the author, NetGalley, and the publisher for the arc to review.
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I've been a fan of Charles Cummings' work for a while now. He has consistantly shown himself to be one of the premier spy novelists around. So it is disappointing to say that Box88 is not one of his top draw novels. It is perefectly fine and enjoyable enough, but a two and half stars effort and not a must read for fans of the genre.  Not sure why but 'Kite' just didn't connect with me as well as Kit Carradine or Thomas Kell have in the past and the book lacked the verve and tension that i'd usually found in his books. If you've not read Cummings before i'd start with A Foriegn Country, The Man Between or, The Trinity Six, and skip this one.
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I admit I don’t usually chose this type of book but I was intrigued by the blurb.  From the very first chapter I was drawn into this complex story and have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The characters are well defined and the attention to detail is admirable.  It is a big tome but this should put off any prospective readers as it skips along very rapidly and if I have any criticism it’s that I wanted more!  I hope this isn’t the only book with Lockie Kite and others.  A great read.
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I wasn’t sure what I thought at first but when I got to the back story and what led up to it I really got into it 
I found the characters interesting and most quite likeable
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Charles Cumming knows how to write very effective and readable spy thrillers. "Box 88" is no exception. Cumming takes the reader back and forth in time to add pieces to an intricate puzzle that is slowly but surely solved with hints, surprises, false leads and twists and turns.
The main part of the book is back in the late 1980s and deals with a young Scot just out of school who is drafted to become a spy for a secret, transnational spy organisation. Vacationing in France with the family of a school friend, he is to spy on an Iranian also staying the the friend's family. The trials and hormonal distractions of a teen spy in the making make good reading, and the switch back and forth between present day and the 1980s helps driving the story forward effectively. Highly recommendable read.

[An ARC of the book was generously provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review]
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I enjoyed reading this book but did not find it a page turner, a characteristic of many previous espionage  novels that I have read. I liked the way in which the past and present were interwoven but found the pace a little slow. This said, I look forward to a sequel.
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An unusual novel about a public schoolboy, Lockie, recruited by one of his schoolmasters into Box 88 - an extraordinarily secretive branch of MI5 . 
Cummings, the author, flits between the early career of Lockie in the late 1980s and the current day. This successfully enables the reader to build-up the underlying character of the main protagonist and his personal background as a teenager.
The plot is gripping, but at times is quite implausible, which detracts slightly from the main story. A number of the characters are complex individuals and it is sometimes difficult to ascertain whose side their loyalties lie.
From my perspective, the story ends with a number of unanswered questions left hanging. I am not too sure whether this is a clever ploy to entice the reader to buy the next novel, or the author didn’t want to drag out the book any further. 
I enjoyed the book and will probably read the next in the series to see whether my queries are resolved.
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Box88 by Charles Cumming  is a brilliant spy story and very much in the le Carre style. Both Cummin and le Carrie show us what the reality of the intelligence sector is like, no James Bond swanning round in glam locations, but unobtrusive secretive men and women going about their business in a very understated way.  (Personally, I have always wondered how Bond could be a spy seeing as how everyone knew who he was...)

It is 1989 and the Cold War will soon be over, but for BOX 88, a top secret spying agency, the espionage game is heating up. Lachlan Kite, recruited from an elite boarding school, is sent to France, tasked with gathering intelligence on an enigmatic Iranian businessman implicated in the Lockerbie bombing. Lachlan is torn with loyalty to the service that has recruited him and to the friends he is staying with.

It is now 2020: MI5 hear rumours of BOX 88’s existence and investigate Kite only to disover that Iranian intelligence have got to him first. Taken captive and brutally tortured, Kite has a choice: reveal the truth about what happened 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.

The Narrative goes backwards and forwards in time, a device which I always find interesting and helps with character development. A tight, taut thriller, excellent writing and as good as Cumming's previous spy novels, all of which I have read. There is a cliff hanger ending so more to come and that is also A Good Thing..
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I approached this book with great expectations having read the previous reviews. I do like a good espionage tale.
This book did not excite me. I had no interest in any of the characters – either to like or despise. The plot premise was good but somehow failed to pull me along, I wasn’t rushing turning pages to reveal what would happen next.
Cumming has written many other books, all with glowing reviews, maybe I should try one of those before dismissing his novels completely.
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Interesting spy thriller about an 18 year old recruited by a secret sub-section of joint MI6 and the CIA called Box 88, initially investigating the Lockerbie bombing, and aiming to prevent further atrocities. 'Lockie' is the public schoolboy taken under the wing of his history beak at Alford College. After their A levels Lockie joins his best friend Xavier Bonnard and his family at their villa in the South of France, but is tasked by ~Box 88 with watching and reporting on events there.
Lots of twists and you don't know who the perpetrators are or why certain individuals are being watched. The story jumps from the present day, (where both Lockie and his wife are abducted separately for reasons unknown) and back to events of that Summer in 1989. We don't know why the abductors are interested in that time at all, or what they want to know - but the story is peeled back layer by fascinating layer with Lockie urgently trying to keep his wife and unborn child safe. 
I felt the ending and explanation of things with MI5 a bit too convenient, hence loss of 1 star. But then maybe reading about clearing all the 'stuff that went on' isn't that interesting to the reader? - a dilemma for the author of any spy novel.
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It’s the first time I’ve read a spy/espionage thriller in years and I must say I really enjoyed this book. The story focuses on Lachlan (Lockie)Kite who is recruited into Box88 which is a covert UK/US espionage group. The story starts with Lachlan receiving a phone call from a former girlfriend informing him that his best friend Xavier committed suicide. 

The story flips between Lockie’s childhood and his time growing up at a prestigious boarding school where he meets Xavier.  At the age of 18 just as he was leaving school, Lockie gets recruited by his school teacher to spy on Xavier’s fathers friend, a well known Iranian during a holiday at Xavier’s family villa in France in 1989. 

His first assignment is to gather intelligence on the Iranian businessman, who has links to the Lockerbie bombing, but he soon discovers much more than this during this fast paced novel. 

The book flips from the past to the present and the present sees Lockie getting kidnapped shortly after Xaviers funeral by Iranians who are keen to find out what really happened during the summer holiday at his friends Families summer house in France back in 1989. 

Lachlan has to fight for his survival during his kidnap ordeal whilst his colleagues desperately try to find him before it’s too late. 

This is a fast paced novel that will have you at the edge of your seat and I look forward to reading more Charles Cummings book. 

I’d like to thank NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.
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I am embarrassed to admit this is the first book I have ever read by Charles Cumming. How this has come to pass, I could not say, but I have rectified the situation and now there is no going back. My love of espionage has a new author to indulge in - hooray!

Box 88 jumps back and forth from current day to the summer of 1989 when Lachlan Kite was a fledgling spy on his first mission collecting information. I reveled in the referenced from the time as it took me back to my youth with the music and fashion of that era. Also joyous was the summer holiday in France with the freedom, fun and heat we couldn't enjoy to the fullest in this year of pandemic. Vacationing vicariously through the characters in this novel isn't necessarily a bad way to go.

Lachlan is a delightful character. Whip smart, quick acting and able to roll with the punches. I enjoyed his learning curve with Box 88 and the way the historical case created the current day events. Well thought through and thoroughly absorbing, I couldn't put it down and was so keen to find out what happened in 1989 and what would occur today with Lachlan's telling of that past story. Indulgent espionage that is possibly too smooth at times but the final blow made it all worthwhile. Enjoy! I know you will.
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Box 88 by the best selling novelist Charles Cummin is a fast paced spy novel that gathers you in and then spits you back out. Recruited as a teenager when he is about to leave his elite boarding school Lachlan (Lockie) Kite’s story weaves backwards and forwards in timeframes from 1984 when he arrives at Alford, the posh boarding school which is so well described, to the present day where we find Kite living in seeming obscurity in a rural idyll with his wife, pregnant with their first child. A host of convincing characters, handily detailed in an appendix at the front of the book, pepper the plot with many hiding their true identities. Both Kite’s early recruitment and training for Box 88, a secret organisation known only to the few, his backstory at school and his present day predicament are brilliantly detailed and make the reader really care what happens to Lockie and his wife. A really terrific modern espionage thriller with the added promise of more to come. Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for the ARC.
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Kite is member of an organisation that doesn’t exist. MI5 try to uncover the organisation and Kite. Only they are out foxed by Iranian Intelligence who kidnap Kite and his wife. They want to know how Kite was involved with an event 30 years ago. How will this end, will the organisation be uncovered and what happened 30 years ago. Brilliant from start to finish would recommend.
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This book was fantastic. I have not read a book as brilliant as this for a while. I was totally disappointed when it came to an end. Please please let there be a follow on book. Edgy, exciting and well written this is a wow factor read.
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As usual with my reviews, I will not rehash the plot - plenty of reviews like that out there already!

I've read a few other spy stories and not enjoyed them (some were almost unintelligible to me, others proved excellent treatments for insomnia...) - however THIS one was very enjoyable!

The characters were interesting and well observed, and the whole "Box 88" scenario was novel (to me at least!) and added another dimension.

The plot was well thought out, and I liked the way that the story moved between different time periods, different locations, and different character points of view.  Favourite characters were Lockie (a decent egg, not entirely an angel), Billy Peele, and Carrie.

This is the first novel I've read by this author, but I look forward to reading others.

My thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for an ARC. All opinions my own.
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I’ve read a few Charles Cummings books (though apparently haven’t blogged on any) and they are always an enjoyable easy read, just the thing if you are a spy fiction fan with a hankering. I like many genres of books, but sometimes I will just know that I need a Cold War thriller. (I think of that as a genre, and the setting doesn’t actually have to be of that era, it is a style of story.)

I liked this one very much: it opens with that classic moment: a phonecall from an old friend, news of a death, a decision to go to a funeral. After a slightly confusing section, it turns into a clear double-timeline story: In contemporary London, some bad guys are after Lachlan Kite, with a desperate need for information about something that happened in 1989. It was a big deal at the time for the people involved (one of them the person whose funeral has set things going), but why does it matter? And Lachlan’s colleagues and friends need to find out what has happened to him.

The other strand of the book tells the story of his life in his late teens: culminating in a summer holiday in a villa in the south of France, with the wealthy family of a schoolfriend, Xavier. There are connections with Iran (10 years after the revolution), worries about terrorism, and an important man coming to stay. This is a spy story, and Lachlan has been semi-‘recruited’ and is on the alert, but he is also like every other 18-year-old, then and now: worried about his A levels, drinking too much, fancying girls, listening to music. He is hanging around with his best friend, smoking and swimming in the pool, enjoying the glimpse of the high life. 

Everyone is very class-conscious – Lachlan went to a school which is clearly Eton (though named Alford in the book) but did not come from a wealthy or upmarket background. He has a rather bleak and hard-working home life, and a distant mother, so we get the contrast with the trip to the welcoming family, the best friend, the sunshine villa and the pool.

The atmosphere of the time is beautifully done, and very much with the feel that Cumming remembers it rather than researched it – I recognized so much of the detail. I was also very familiar with the international politics of the time, and enjoyed the going over of it.

I have one tiny catch – and I truly only offer this because everything about the book was so authentic – and that was that I don’t think the motherly hostess would have suggested that the teenage girl cover up with a ‘pashmina’ in 1989: that name for a cashmere shawl didn’t become common till much later. But, I am forever tripping over anachronisms and being fussy and pedantic about books set in the past, and I was hugely impressed by the absence of such mistakes in this one.







The thriller plot was very good and he kept one step ahead of the reader. It was involving and exciting, switching between the two lines, but – again, unlike so many books – this was not at all confusing. There was a lot of tension and jeopardy, and Lachie’s constant low-level feeling of dread in the 1989 sections was very well done, very imaginable given the strange situation he found himself in as an 18-year-old. An appealing cross between being in trouble with the teachers, and putting people’s lives in danger. No snitching, vs betraying your country.







Good descriptions: ‘he was a triple-dyed shit of outsized ego, possessed of boundless tenacity and cunning. Such characteristics were always an asset to any team.’ But that is not – of course – Lachlan, a great protagonist. I don’t think it’s spoiler-esque to say that it seems he will be back in future books.

The Box 88 of the title is a secret organization – doing what? Goodies or baddies? You will have to read the book to find out...

Pictures of the idealized south of France holiday from fashion magazine of the era.
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A Brilliant  Back and Forth Spy Thriller!

This first book of a long-awaited new series from Cumming does not disappoint. From its prologue of the Lockerbie disaster, the story then sends the reader back and forth into the life of Lachlan Kite and the mysterious clandestine world of Box 88, a joint service underground intelligence network. The story concentrates on how Kite found himself recruited into this organisation through a series of chronological events as well as putting the protagonist into an up to date life-threatening situation with Iranian terrorists. This may sound complicated as far as the plot is concerned and would be something I would strongly recommend my students not do, however, the non-linear structure formula works extremely well in this novel and the added technique of keeping the chapters short aid this process. On the whole, Box88 is a thrilling page-turner as the typical Cumming style is unleashed with great effect. The characters are very three-dimensional and the plot is easily followed even with the odd twist and turn thrown in when you least expect it.
I would thoroughly recommend this book and cannot wait for the next time we see Lachlan Kite and Box 88. I know it’s coming,, as Mr Cumming himself has let slip this information in his recent video to promote this first book of the series.
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An unusual take on a storyline of espionage in that the abduction of a secret agent is directly related to circumstances and events thirty years previously. The death of a former classmate , companion and confidante is the catalyst that projects Lachlan Kite, chief protagonist into a life and death scenario threatening not only himself but that of his wife and unborn child. A story unfolds in flashbacks of an eighteen year old privately educated  yet somewhat socially awkward Kite, on the cusp of university , recruited by an obscure agency  into a summer of terrifying cat and mouse intrigue. Alternating between the ever present threat of execution and the events of a holiday in Europe , when naivety was replaced by spy-craft skills and actions that would cause the destruction of , and mayhem for,  many of the participants .  As the story unfolds against a ticking clock we learn of friendships damaged, innocence destroyed culminating in an explosive cliff hanger conclusion revealing all and yet still allowing tantalising threads to remain frustratingly obscure. Perhaps a follow up book allowing further development of characters and extension of storyline. A thoroughly enjoyable read of a genre and author that are unfamiliar yet of high standard and made for compulsive reading. Many thanks to publisher and NetGalley for this ARC.
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This is the first book by Charles Cumming that I have read - impressions after reading are: a fluent writing style; well constructed characters; and a clever way of weaving together stories that are unfolding many years apart. Cumming introduces a fair amount of contemporary material that makes it seem both credible and current. This reader wonders, however, whether this will age well or even have any easy resonance with readers even two or three years in the future. 
Running alongside the satisfying  espionage storyline are themes of coming of age; the bitter sweet experiences of first love: and the agony of betrayal of friends. The only mild reservations in this reader’s mind relates to the seeming implausibility of the ease with which the lead character - a highly experienced agent - is tricked and kidnapped in the opening section of the book. However, this needs to be seen in the context of a well written thriller that is hard to put down.
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