Cover Image: JUDAS 62

JUDAS 62

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Charles Cummings is a master storyteller and is fast becoming one of my favourite authors! He draws you in from the get-go and the attention to detail is extraordinary. The story and the characters feel authentic and I for one will look twice at a bottle of eye drops from now on! 

Judas 62 follows on from Box 88. It is the story of Lachlan Kite or better known as Lockie. In the first book, we met Kite and we found out how I was recruited by Box  88 and the first mission he was sent on. I don't think it is necessary to have read the first one to thoroughly enjoy this book but they are so good that I would definitely suggest reading both! 
This book is about the second mission he went on to Russia. It is now years later and suddenly his name (the one he used on the mission) is placed on the Judas list. The Russians are busy killing off people from this list. Will they get to Lockie or will he outwit them again? 

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK, Harper fiction for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion
Was this review helpful?
Judas 62 is the second instalment in the enthralling Box 88 series featuring the ultra-clandestine spy agency that on paper doesn't actually exist and is not even known about by MI6 or the CIA. This story meanders and is related to chemical weapons, espionage and the ghosts of the Cold War. It begins by flashing back to summer 1993 when then inexperienced spy Lachlan ‘Lockie‘ Kite had been assigned the perilous task of travelling to the city of Voronezh in post-Soviet Russia in order to extract an esteemed Russian chemical weapons specialist - Yuri Aranov - from the country and ferry him to the relative safety of Ukraine. So as not to arouse any suspicion he is to present himself as an English Language teacher working under the name Peter Galvin. However, the mission quickly goes wrong, and he is left to fend for himself in a hostile Russian city with the former KGB, now called FSK, shadowing him at every turn. He survives but only just. 

Meanwhile, back in the present day (2020) and Lockie is now the Director of Operations at UK-based under-the-radar intelligence agency Box 88, and his distant past is about to come back to haunt him. When a former Russian General is targeted for death using the brutal nerve agent Novichok in the secludedness of the Adirondack Mountains in Northern New York State, despite being two decades after the mission, Lockie discovers that the Russians certainly haven't forgotten him when he finds his name on a kill list, but instead of letting that sink in and play on his mind, he immediately arranges a trip to Dubai to target a Russian assassin he knows from 1993 who has been carrying out many of these hits. Mikhail Gromik is a merciless Putin ally and member of the FSB. From that moment on, a very real and dangerous game of kill or be killed begins. This is compulsive and engaging spy fiction written with Cummings’ trademark elegance and featuring a plot crafted and woven to near perfection. 

The story twists back and forth with some exciting surprises and misdirection to throw readers off the scent as to where the plot may be heading. Everyone must be viewed with suspicion and it's a great idea to be as cynical as Diogenes if you're involved in the spy game. Impeccably researched Cold War fiction is no easy feat to write, and the author has got the balance exactly right between the build-up and historical backstory underpinning everything, and the unfurling of a fast-paced plot complete with devious twists and wickedly misleading misdirection. Rife with palpable tension and geopolitical turmoil, there is all you need here and more to satisfy the detail-orientated reader when it comes to espionage and political intrigue. You become completely immersed in the struggles of the era and the dance between the historical strand of the plot and the present-day part was superbly dealt with and played wonderfully on both past and current fears regarding the Russian regime. All in all, this is a scintillating, insightful and entertaining espionage novel. Highly recommended.
Was this review helpful?
If you want a fast paced espionage thriller then read this book!
Charles Cummings author of BOX 88 brings you JADAS 62 an unputdownable spy thriller. 
Kite is back in this book and it brings us back to 1993 when Kite is a language teacher in post Soviet Russia but of course he's no ordinary teacher he is also a spy given orders to extract the scientist that holds the key to  chemical weapons before the Russians use it for their own means. 
Things don't go according to plan and Kite is left on his own with the formidable KGB on his tail. 

Forward to 2020 and Kite is now the head of BOX 88 in the UK but when old friends and colleagues from the past start showing up dead and he discovers that he is on the Russian JUDAS list for assassination. 
When Kite goes to Dubai to confront the Russian head of state who will make it out alive?
Was this review helpful?
The 2nd book in the Lachlan Kite Series brings another brilliant spy story from Charles Cumming.

Something of a slow starter, the story again follows Kite as a coming of age spy, and a story that follows now, in Covid Times.

Tense, Well paced and superbly plotted, Kite, and the returning Box 88 crew are a great creation, and we get taken on a ride back to Russia in the early 90s then to Dubai in the here and now as the team try to deal with and put a stop to the Judas List - a potential list of assassinations.

It’s probably some of the finest espionage reading out there, and this series by Kite is sure to fly. 

Addictive, at time pulse pounding, again there is a real air of authenticity to the story, this feels like how things really go down, and it was good to see Kite pushed to the edge, thinking how far will he push the boundaries.

High quality Spy Hi Jinks from one of the best

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
Was this review helpful?
Charles Cumming is rapidly becoming one f the foremost thriller writers around. This is the second book in the Lachlan Kite series and builds on the excitement of the first. 

The characters are well drawn, the plot topical and thrilling, the tradecraft credible and well described. 

Well written and researched his is a top notch spy thriller dealing with events contemporary and past. 

An excellent read. Highly recommended.
Was this review helpful?
The announcement of this novel was a very nice surprise — it arrived much sooner than expected after the release of the first book, BOX 88. A long-time fan of Cumming’s novels, I eagerly sought out a review copy and was lucky enough to get my mitts on one. I’m happy to report that it lived up to my high expectations. Another excellent novel from a modern master of spy fiction.

Cumming’s latest espionage thriller is a ripped-from-the-headlines story of Russian hits, international mystery, and the lingering effects of the Cold War. Russian defectors are being assassinated, most likely by the Kremlin, and Lachlan Kite and BOX 88 are on the case. Given the organization’s role during the Cold War (a joint UK-US outfit), they were involved in some of these defections and extractions from Soviet Russia, and so are responsible for those who risked their lives to get out and help the West. After Kite learns that one of his old, Cold War aliases has been added to Russia’s JUDAS list, he is forced to revisit his first international, solo mission.

The story alternates between Lachlan’s past and the present. We learn more about his relationship with Martha Raine, during their youth and college years; and the circumstances around his first solo international mission. Martha, in particular, gets a bigger role in this novel and she’s a great character. Cumming is equally adept at evoking the atmosphere of the Cold War in remote and controlled Voronezh; and the contemporary tension brought about by the pandemic, in the UK and also Dubai. (This is the first novel I’ve read that features the COVID-19 pandemic, and the author does a great job of incorporating it into his story, without allowing it to overwhelm it.) There’s plenty of Cold War-era and modern tradecraft, some contemporary politics and international relations, and some great twists and cat-and-mouse action; all of which builds to a very satisfying conclusion.

Grander in scope, and with higher stakes, JUDAS 62 is another excellent espionage thriller. Cumming skillfully alternates between the past and present, interweaving Cold War fallout into a contemporary setting (including COVID). The novel is populated by engaging characters and great tension and mystery. The novel moves at a good clip, but it is not necessarily a fast-paced thriller — this serves the story brilliantly, and I’m glad the author took a more measured approach to pacing than I imagine some other authors might have.

I would happily read more novels featuring these characters, and I really hope we get the chance to do so. Definitely recommended.
Was this review helpful?
I previously enjoyed reading Box 88 ,so was delighted to be given  the chance to read the sequel Judas 62.This is a brilliant spy story ,Lochie Kite is back and now in charge .The story is told between timelines which I like as I feel you get more information that way .Set in the UK ,Russia and Dubai the story is very gripping, tense  and sometimes hold your breath scary ! One of those very hard to put down books ,I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading more books by this Author .Many thanks to the Publisher ,the Author and NetGalley for my copy in return for an honest review .
Was this review helpful?
Lachlan Kite made his debut in the brilliant Box 88 and Charles Cumming’s spy returns in another superb novel - Judas 62.

Linking back to one of Kite’s first missions Judas 62 sees a threat made to Kite which has to be dealt with.

The novel moves along at a good pace and is an highly entertaining read and a book that I thoroughly recommend.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed last year’s BOX 88 so it was an easy decision to request this follow-up. The last few books I’ve read have been historical literary fiction so it was refreshing to return to the world of espionage. Again there is a split timeline, an exfiltration mission to Russia in 1993 providing ramifications for the present day. So present that it is set in a world of COVID-19 and lockdown, but done with a light touch, a mention of a face mask here or a rainbow in a window on a quiet road there.
I really like Charles Cumming’s style; it has a sharp wit and cultural references but it’s subtly done and not shoved down your throat. Quite how he builds the tension so tight when we know who survives the 1993 operation is beyond me. This is another corker of a thriller. If you’re looking for a spy story that’ll get your heart racing and exclaiming ‘No!’ at the page as disaster looms, I heartily recommend JUDAS 62. And of course I love the cricket references.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this book and it flowed on so well with the characters from the first book, BOX 88.  Lachlan Kite is a “spy” and in the first book he was sent to Russia to extricate a chemical weapons scientist who wanted to defect which happened but did not go as well as everyone hoped.  Move onto the new book JUDAS 62.  Kite has now gone up the ladder work wise and is in charge of operations in the UK.  He is now married with a baby but they are living abroad which makes Kite wonder about where his life will be going him in the UK working.  Intelligence comes to his notice that the name he used in the first book as cover has been put on the list of people who will be targeted for assassination by the Russians together with the Russian who he helped defect all those years ago.  In comes the Russian adversary which Kite hoodwinked in book 1.  Kite sets a plan in motion which takes him to Dubai to try and bring down Mikhail Cromik before he can assassinate Aranov who defected and himself.  The plan is complex as he knows Cromik has the pick of assassins and they would have no qualms but to complete the task.  He decides to use Aranov as bait but the plan needs to be completely watertight which is made more difficult because of COVID restrictions.  All arrive in Dubai and the story weaves in and out, who is good and who is not.  I found this book great from start to finish.  I liked the characters and the drama of the story.  Great read with a fast pace to make you want to read it continuously to find out the next twist
Was this review helpful?
A two part espionage tale with Lachlan Kite’s early history taking up the first two thirds of the tale. The reason for him appearing on a hit list is the explanation for the first chapters and the clever way of extracting a scientist with secrets of nerve warfare and a nerve shredding description of the drive to Ukraine is the climax of the first part. Kite’s antics as a young agent are revealed before the extended denouement of the story. Plenty of leeway for more episodes as the standard of the first tale is maintained in this the second.
Was this review helpful?
Kite’s return is both slow-burning and pulsating - all in the same breath. A top-notch, gripping spy thriller!

The first novel in this series, Box 88, saw the introduction of Lachlan Kite and his recruitment into the joint MI6/CIA organisation known as Box 88. This novel begins with the assassinations of former Soviet traitors with references to real life affairs such as Litvinenko and the Skripal poisonings. The investigations soon get the attention of Kite and Box 88 as they discover an FSB plot to track down these traitors known as Judas with each given a specific number. However, when it comes to Judas 62, Kite soon realised that this particular target is a lot closer to home.
The story then flashes back to 1993, and Kite’s mission to aid in the defection of a top Russian scientist  specialising in chemical weapons while posing as an English teacher in Voronezh. Back to the present day, and Kite’s team conduct an operation to lure FSB agents into a trap. The scenes taking place in Dubai will have readers literally walking the sun-soaked streets and experiencing the lavishness of the plush hotels and restaurants as the operatives of Box 88 move closer to the entrapment of a top ranking FSB commander in order to eradicate the order of execution for the aforementioned Judas 62. With great characters you can really relate to and a most-plausible storyline, this is a superb return to Kite and his Box 88  team and is as gripping if not more so than the first novel in this most-welcome series, Roll on the next book in the series!
Was this review helpful?
This is the second book featuring Lachlan Kite, who works a secret group of British and American ‘spooks’ called Box 88. In fact, in this episode Lachlan heads up the British end and discovers to his horror that he’s on a list of people the Russians are planning to assassinate. But it’s not as straight forward as that: the name that appears on the list is actually an alias he used nearly thirty years ago when he was a rookie recruit sent into Russia to exfiltrate a chemical weapons scientist. So why is the alias listed and not his real name? Do they actually know his real identity? This and other questions will be answered in a complex but satisfying tale of derring-do.

We follow both stories, both the present day threat (where the Coronavirus pandemic looms large in the background) and also, in flashback, Kite’s early trip to Russia during which he runs into an unfriendly KGB officer who is to feature in both tales. I found that the story of Kite’s visit to and escape from Russia had echoes of Ben Macintyre’s true life book The Spy and the Traitor and in this respect, though the methods were somewhat different, it rang true and therefore had all the more impact. The contemporary element is more complex and involves an veritable army of characters, this I found slightly less satisfying. Nonetheless, I was never less than fully engaged in Kite’s plight.

There are some carry over characters from the first book in this series but it’s definitely a story that can be read as a stand-alone piece. Cumming maintains both pace and suspense well throughout and the only real grumble I have – and it’s a personal thing – is that I find any book with so many active participants (there’s an index listing more than thirty at the beginning of the book) to be hard work in tracking who is who as the tale plays out. That said, it’s what you sign up for in a story such as this and I’m sure many readers will breeze through this element.
Was this review helpful?
I love Charles Cumming's books. I know they are going to be exciting and this one lived up to my hope!The sequel to Box 88 with Lachlan Kite. This one goes back in time to when Lachlan was a freshly inducted spy so to speak when he had to fill in at very short notice when a more experienced spy was hurt in an accident. He travelled to Russia to extract a valuable asset. Coming forward in time his name, or rather the fake name he used on that very early mission, is now in a hit list. Why now and who is it that his put his name there? Great stuff, good writing and looking forward to the next Lachlan Kite book
Was this review helpful?
Split between two time points from Kites point of view this book neatly unfolds some of the back story of Kite and Box88 alongside the current situation of Kite, now at the top of the organisation, finding himself on a hit list.
The book follows the rise of Kite through the 90's from slightly hapless new graduate to master of espionage and works  as a standalone and also neatly fills in some gaps from the first book without making you feel you should have read it first.
Was this review helpful?
Brilliant! Loved Lachlan Kite in 'Box 88' and eagerly anticipated another instalment. This book kept me on tenterhooks the whole way through, with a slight short 'dip' after a certain border crossing (for which had the tension been sustained much longer, I would have needed medical attention, lol)!

The story focuses on the penchant of the Putin regime for particularly nasty poisonings and the development by talented scientists of ever-increasingly sophisticated and non-detectable or curable ones. Think: Litvinenko, Navalny, Skripals, Magnitsky (the latter of whom I'm ashamed to say, I had to Google). 

General Palatnik formerly of the Red army, and now defector living in the US is killed by the same substance as that used on the Skripals, bringing back memories to Kite of his old girlfriend Martha, and the job he was set by Box 88 in 1993. We go back to that time - he's just left university and his task is to 'exfil' the talented, young scientist Yuri Aranov from Russia into Ukraine because Yuri has appeared on an FSB 'kill' list called JUDAS. 

Without giving spoilers - there are basically 2 stories here, linked by Kite's arch enemy: Mikhail Gromik. Kite discovers that he too, is in imminent danger. 

Ingenious plot. 2 extremely exciting climaxes. Loved it. Highly recommended. Cumming's research is fantastic and some things I imagined to be fantasy were proved to be very unpalable truths.
Was this review helpful?
I have enjoyed Charles Cumming's spy novels so much to date that I was a bit apprehensive when I began reading  "JUDAS 62" in case it didn't live up to my expectations. But I needn't have worried. If anything, this book is even better than the first in Cumming's BOX 88 series which was published last year.

The backstory, which takes up nearly half the novel, is set in Russia, nearly two years after the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991. A pacy plot involving a young British spy operating undercover as a language teacher and very credible members of the former KGB leaves both sides seeking revenge. Fast-forward to COVID-ridden 2020, and the main players confront each other in Dubai in an exciting and satisfying conclusion. 

Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me the ebook in exchange for this honest review.
Was this review helpful?
My thanks to Charles Cumming, Harper Collins and Net Galley for the ARC of JUDAS 62
The second novel I have read by the author, and in the Lachlan Kite series. It is set in the present time and in 1993, documenting Kite's second foray into espionage as a 22-year-old, when he is sent to Soviet Russia to retrieve a Russian scientist. In the present time, Lachlan discovers he is on a list called the JUDAS list, which included the likes of Litvinenko and Skripal, which is linked to his past.
Gripping, perfectly paced, and choc-full of twists and turns. Brilliant.
Was this review helpful?
First one I have read in the series but I loved it. The multi layered story between two time lines was excellent. The characters are human and flawed making you feel for them and wanting the best outcome.
I will be looking out for the next book as I want to find out how the lives of the characters develop and unfold.
Was this review helpful?
This book is a thrilling story of espionage, spying, treachery and the silent games of covert warfare : the double dealing and double cross countries carry out with and on each other in the name of their countries safety. An under cover agency Box 88 find out a Russian scientist secretly extracted and given asylum three decades previously and brought to safety is now on a secret hit list. Moreover the secret agent responsible for the successful operation may also be on the hit list.  With supreme skill the author takes us back in history to when the chief protagonist was a young man, unproven in the skills of spy craft, on his first mission to extradite the individual from post communist Russia.  The story then moves to current day, in the throes of a pandemic, when as a senior officer in Box 88 he must once again protect the defector and clarify if he himself is a target. A cat and mouse operation ensues both complicated and thrilling with everyone involved risking their lives on the whim of circumstances and luck. This book, the second I have read by this author is comprehensive in detail and planning with locations expertly researched and characters exquisitely drawn . A five star read on every level and a book which cannot be recommended highly enough. Many thanks to author, publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this ARC.
Was this review helpful?