Cover Image: JUDAS 62

JUDAS 62

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4 ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️  contemporary spy thriller. This is a fast paced and thrilling read spanning dual timelines of 1990s and 2020. In 1993, a student, Lachlan Kite is employed as a spy and sent as an undercover teacher to Russia by secret intelligence agency Box 88. The mission goes awry and he is stranded.  The KGB are hot on his trail. This story in interspersed with present day and the toxic deaths of some former spies. In 2020, Kite learns he is on the 'JUDAS' list, a list of enemies of Russia, who are to be assassinated. Kite has managed to escape the clutches of  Russia before. In this present game of cat and mouse the stakes are once again high. With no where to run,  Kite has no choice but to face the enemy head on. This is a tense read with superb storytelling.  Cumming evokes a detailed and multi layered world of espionage, draws powerful characters and a dense atmosphere.  Lachlan Kite is a superb additon to the world of modern espionage. Nail biting!  #judas62 #charlescumming #harpercollins #NetGalley #espionage #box88 #Russia #spythriller #LachlanKite #spynovel #espionagebooks #karla_bookishlife
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I very much enjoyed the first book in this new series by Charles Cumming, Box 88, and wrote an enthusiastic review here.

So here is Book Number Two, Judas 62, with our hero Lockie, Lachlan Kite, in charge of another complicated operation. As before, there is a dual timeline: he is looking back at his early days in the secret world, a mission he undertook in Russia soon after the fall of the communist regime. We have extended flashbacks of that incident, and meanwhile in contemporary times he is astonished to find there is fallout 30 years later – what is going on? Great setup for a book. It makes for a great read, full of tension and unexpected twists and turns – it is also funny, with an excellent key character, the important scientist Yuri Aranov, who is quite impossible to deal with and tremendous fun.

The older timeline is set in Voronezh in the early 90s, where Lockie has a cover story as a teacher of English. It’s not a Russian city you hear about much, but it is exactly the kind of place people went to as students – I had friends who did that – and as with the older story in the first book, the authenticity is marked, and makes for an even better read. (Of course one thing is that we know he will survive whatever difficulties that come up.) It is proper old-school spying:

On a signal from Kite, a local BOX 88 agent would leave a Lada Nova parked in a prearranged location close to the dacha. Inside there would be enough hard currency for bribes, as well as false passports. The route would take them south-west via Stary Oskol on a potholed minor road.

In the modern section there is interesting commentary on the focus of spying moving from its old haunts - the ones we are used to in books by Cumming’s spywriter predecessors:


Dubai was a playground for spying, the new Vienna, a Berlin for the age of ISIS and 9/11…. Dubai drew tourists and athletes and stars from every continent to a desert city crossroads where Kite and his colleagues could blend in among the tourists and the ex-pats, the Indian merchants and the Iranian entrepreneurs, and spy to their heart’s content.
There is a description of a dramatic restaurant in Dubai:

‘Everything done up in black and red lanterns, like the monastery in the Himalayas where Bruce Wayne learns how to be Batman. Girls taking pictures of themselves and putting their food on Instagram. It was so noisy you can’t hear yourself think.'

'Sounds like most of the restaurants in London...' 

Some of the goings-on in the book are very recognizable, actual recent events mentioned, and towards the end our hero gets political, and sets out his principles. He defines his team’s job like this: they have to ‘make it as difficult as possible for corrupt people and those who serve them to remain in power and to manipulate the truth.’ We can only hope that perhaps BOX 88 exists in real life…






In the earlier timeline, Lockie/Kite attends a fancy dress party in a posh English house - always a favourite theme of mine, and this one is very well done.

All the guests had assembled downstairs in their costumes. Xavier had made jugs of Pimm’s and triple-strength vodka and tonics; Martha and Kite walked around handing out warmed Marks & Spencer sausage rolls and bowls of Walker’s crisps. Martha was dressed as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman: knee-high black leather boots, a pale blue miniskirt attached to a cropped white bra via metal loops. Kite was wearing a poncho and sombrero with a plastic ammunition belt tied around his waist. Elsewhere he spotted Gretchen as Annie Hall, two Hannibal Lecters, and a Roman centurion…
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I really enjoyed this second book in the Box 88 series.  I like the realistic characters and although at times it could become complicated, it never lost me.  There were almost two books in this Judas 62 book:  one where the younger Lockie Kite has a mission in Russia and the second with him several decades later with a mission in Dubai.  I felt I had got a bargain in that I expected one book and got two!  If you like dark ops, spies, intrigue which is set in modern times, then you’ll love this book.  Can’t wait for the next one.
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I really enojoyed BOX 88, this is the second book. A spy organisation that doesn't exist! From the early days Kite is now a director of BOX 88. When he is down on list of recorded enemies of Russia the book takes us back to case when he was still a student. It is this case that nearly thirty years later comes to haunt him, who will come out on top. Brilliant and enjoyable spy thriller.
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After reading Box 88, I was very much looking forward to this book and was not disappointed. A novel that takes the reader on a spy and espionage rollercoaster, from Russia to Dubai the reader will be on edge throughout. This is the perfect cat and mouse thriller with a captivating main character and a writer at his very best.
A great spy thriller. Readers of Le Carre and Forsyth should embrace Cumming, he’s the real deal.
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An enjoyable read, with some great spy thrills.

If I'm being honest, when I started reading this I got slightly confused with it starting in the modern day, then all of a sudden we're back in time to retell a relevant backstory to the overall plot. The reason this confused me, was that there was no warning or indication of the switch in years.

That aside, some good research for the early years section of the book to give some cultural references, with global news being a big part of the modern day setting.

If you like a good spy thriller, then give this a go.

I was provided a free ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in return for my honest review.
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In “Judas 62”, we pick up where the fabulous “Box 88” left off, following the investigations of a covert intelligence agency in the aftermath of the death of a Russian defector.

As in the first instalment of the series, we go back and forth in time between the present day and the past, following the undercover operations of the now-Director Lachlan Kite as a young man. This time, we follow Kite to Russia in the early ’90s where he must extract a chemical weapons scientist… an act which, in the present day, has led to Kite’s inclusion on a list of targets for assassination.

As with the previous book, the writing is wonderfully paced, with great character arcs, and enough period detail to give a really good sense of the time and place. The action is gripping, but there are also enough quieter moments to allow the author to really develop the plot and build suspense. This is obviously very well researched and feels entirely believable. I very much look forward to the next book in the series!

My thanks to the author, NetGalley, and the publisher for the arc to review.
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I hadn't read the first installment (Box 88) but was given the chance to read a preview copy of this one and can confirm it stands alone quite nicely.
After a bit of back-story, Lockie's job is simple - assume the role of an English teacher in Russia and extract someone out of the country ASAP.
Definitely got the pulse racing!
Didn't quite know where the story was headed after that but there's basically a part II some years later involving more of the same characters in more cat and mouse action based around Dubai.
Barring a few niggles thought it was excellent throughout and recommended from me.
Many thanks for the preview copy, as ever.
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Having enjoyed Charles Cummings’s first novel in this series I was looking forward to Lachlan Kite’s second outing. Judas 62 has many of the features of the first novel, Box88: a narrative linking two stories separated by many years, well drawn characters and complex relationships between Kite and his various romantic interests. The action sequences are well described and draw the reader into the tense atmosphere. As is usual in spy thrillers the reader is required to suspend disbelief, but not to an unreasonable  degree. If there is any criticism it feels a bit like the scene in the film Amadeus where Emperor Joseph II says there were ‘too many notes, dear Mozart, too many notes’. In this case, whilst Cummings certainly ensures that characters and scenes are created in a full three dimensions, there are times when it feels as if this is taken too far and a little more crisp editing would have improved the text. However, this is a minor niggle and does not detract from an excellent novel.
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This is the follow up to Box 88 and continues the story of the spy Lachlan Kite.  Th plot moves from Russia to Dubai seamlessly and is written to Charles Cumming's high standards.  Highly recommended.
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My thanks to the Author publisher's and NetGalley for providing me with a Kindle version of this book to read and honestly review.
Absolute quality.
Well written and researched engaging from first to last page, this is the second of the Box 88 series and hopefully the next is almost ready because I cannot wait for more. While there are numerous references to the previous book in the series this could easily be read as a standalone story, but do yourself a favour and start at the beginning. Cerebral clever descriptive narrative, atmospheric descriptive intelligent with characters so believable you feel like a part of the plot, totally immersed in the action and involved in the nuances and subterfuge of this excellent spy story.
Completely recommended.
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A spy in one of the most dangerous places on Earth…
1993: Student Lachlan Kite is sent to post-Soviet Russia in the guise of a language teacher. In reality, he is there as a spy. Top secret intelligence agency BOX 88 has ordered Kite to extract a chemical weapons scientist before his ground breaking research falls into the wrong hands. But Kite’s mission soon goes wrong and he is left stranded in a hostile city with a former KGB officer on his trail.
An old enemy looking for revenge…
2020: Now the director of BOX 88 operations in the UK, Kite discovers he has been placed on the ‘JUDAS’ list – a record of enemies of Russia who have been targeted for assassination. Kite’s fight for survival takes him to Dubai, where he must confront the Russian secret state head on…
Who will come out on top in this deadly game of cat and mouse?
This is a wonderful addition to this thrilling series!
Wonderful well written plot and story line that had me engaged from the start.
Love the well fleshed out characters and found them believable.
Great suspense and action with wonderful world building  that adds so much to the story.
Such a thrilling read that I couldn't put it down.
Can't wait to read more of these.
Recommend reading.

I was provided an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher.  This is my own honest voluntary review.
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I love a good espionage thriller and I know Charles Cumming always delivers something special.

I was totally engrossed from the beginning to the end of this book as i was the first in this series.

In this book we follow Lockie as he is sent undercover to Russia to extract a chemical weapons scientist however not all goes to plan and they are in a race to escape being caught by a very dogged former KGB agent.

Fast forward to some years later and Lockie discovers his name is on a 'Judas list' - a list of perceived enemies of  Russia who are being singled out for assassination. 

Fast-paced and real I loved this book and cannot wait for the next istallment.
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The second book in the Box88 series takes the reader to Russia in 1993, where young Lockie Kite's task is to extract a chemical weapons specialist. The repercussions from that mission catch up with Lockie in 2020. He is number 62 on the Judas list.

The historic mission is intense, suspenseful, rife with betrayal and dangerous characters. The vivid imagery draws the reader into the life and death adventure. An equally intense mission plays out in a 2020 world seized by a global pandemic. Historical characters and references add authenticity.
The story is an absorbing mix of action and theory with an exciting cast of characters that makes this an addictive read.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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In the world of spy thrillers combine the talents of John le Carre, Len Deighton and Graham Greene and you have Charles Cumming, who just keeps getting better and better with every novel.
Here the plot is gritty, intellectual and full of realism. Set in post-Soviet Russia in 1993 and a world under the restrictions of the pandemic in 2020 (an event so many cowardly authors have chosen to ignore!) it grips with an intense empathy for extraordinary characters.
I can't remember when I last enjoyed a spy thriller as much as this one.
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I received an advance copy of this in return for an honest review, This is the second of Charles Cummings Box 88 books with the central character Lachlan Kite. Like the first book it tells two stories the first set back in 1993 when fledgling spy Kite is sent to Russia to extract a Russian scientist where his youthful indiscretions and attraction to pretty girls puts the mission and several lives into danger..
The second part which intertwines with the first linking nicely as motives become clear.An ex Russian General who spied for the West before defecting to live with a new identity in the USA,is assassinated in a most horrific way,He was on the Judas list ,a list drawn up by the former KGB and containing anyone they see as having been a traitor .
When a new name appears on the list Lachlan Kite and Box 88 must come up with a plan to protect one of their own and see that the lists author is neutralised for good.
A cracking yarn frightening in its portrayal of state sponsored terrorism and the callous disregard they have of peoples lives.
I enjoyed Box 88 but this is a big step up a stunning and thrilling book I look forward to the next one.
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I previously said after reading Charles Cumming’s first book in the Lachlan Kite series that I don’t normally read books about espionage. I stand by that but I will always make an exception when it comes to any book written by this author. I loved the first one and the second one was just as good. 
Charles Cumming is a brilliant storyteller and I was engrossed from the beginning to the end of the book.
In this instalment Lockie is sent undercover to Russia to extract a chemical weapons scientist but everything doesn’t go according to plan and they are in a race to escape being captured by a very determined former KGB officer.
Many years later Lockie discovers his name is on the Judas list- enemies of the Russian state targeted for assassination. 
Another fascinating story and these books just get better and better. Can’t wait for the next one.
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Judas 62 by Charles Cumming is a slow and detailed start. I loved the first book where a young Lockie (Lachlan Kite) cut his espionage teeth for Box 88 and I was looking forward to seeing how life had evolved for him. I’m glad I stuck with this as the contrast between the young Lockie, learning his trade, and the mature Lockie as head of Box 88 was well developed. The young spook, Toby Landau, was well constructed to reflect the raw talent reminiscent of a young Lachlan. Multiple characters on a plot line leads to potential confusion and this did prove to be a bit of a challenge. Once the plot got going, however, the story flowed, the tension thickened and the pace became fast and frantic. The credibility of the storyline was good, drawing on very accurate  current “cold war” events like the poisoning of defectors/double agents. The coronavirus pandemic added to the reality if the plot without overtaking it. Lockie’s final challenge to Cara brings into sharp relief the personal choices inherent in working in the field of espionage. Cumming doesn’t  sugarcoat the  associated ethical dilemmas and personal challenges that sit alongside making a difference and crafting a safer world. Overall, this was a well written, credible and fast paced spy story. Four stars
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A well researched, topical spy story with plenty of references to novichok, Salisbury, Litvinenko, Navalny, etc and all the more chilling because of the ring of authenticity. The book switches between Kite's mission to post-Soviet Russia in 1993 and his present day position as head of Box 88 who discovers his name on a Russian hit list (the Judas list).

Many novels operate well by using different PoVs and timelines but usually the switch is chapter by chapter. Where this book differs is that it's almost a novel within a novel and I found that I was so caught up in 1993 and the young Kite that I felt a real jolt when that ended and we were back in 2021, particularly as it is set in our world with many Covid-19 references.  Despite this Cumming has a real gift for setting the scene and the descriptions of Dubai were so detailed and intense that I could almost feel that I was there in the burning heat, 

There were rather too many characters so that occasionally I just accepted a name rather than bothering to decipher who it was (made easier by the Russian surnames, at least I knew who the "baddies" were...).

Overall an enjoyable read with a good pace.
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My thanks to HarperCollins U.K. for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘JUDAS 62’ by Charles Cumming in exchange for an honest review.

This is the second in Cumming’s BOX 88 series featuring intelligence agent Lachlan Kite. 

It is July 2020 and Kite discovers that one of his early BOX 88 identities has been placed on the ‘JUDAS’ list: a record of enemies of Russia who have been targeted for assassination. In order to ensure his continued survival Kite travels to Dubai for a confrontation with an old adversary.

The story moves back to 1993 and we learn of the circumstances that led to his inclusion on the list. While still at university Lachlan Kite was offered an assignment by BOX 88 prior to his officially joining them. He is sent to post-Soviet Russia in the guise of a language teacher. His task is to make contact with a chemical weapons scientist who desires to leave the country. Of course, the mission goes wrong… 

This proved another well plotted espionage thriller that held my attention throughout. In the 1993 section Cumming captures the uneasy atmosphere of the new Russia and the awareness that essentially nothing has really changed with the fall of the Soviet Union. In the 2020 timeline Cumming integrates references to Covid-19 safety protocols without this dominating the narrative. 

In addition, he blends in a number of real life cases involving attempted and successful assassinations of Russia’s enemies, which of course they always find a way to deny. 

This series contains everything that I seek in spy fiction, including the inclusion of authentic tradecraft. While fictional spies James Bond and George Smiley are referenced in the text, Cumming’s writing is very much in the tradition of John le Carre. 

I definitely will be on the lookout for future novels in the series as well as exploring Cumming’s back catalogue.
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