He told Caroline Flyn at FiveBooks about five favorite works on espionage, including:
A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric AmblerRead about Cumming's other picks.
Eric Ambler is the grandfather of the serious spy novel.
By which you mean no martinis, no gadgets?
Exactly. Broadly speaking, there are two schools of spy novel: the Ian Fleming, Robert Ludlum school, which is purely escapist and highly entertaining, full of guns and gadgets and fast women; and then there’s the more serious, literary strand, which is interested in character and behaviour as much as in story.
Ambler was the same generation as Graham Greene, and he was, like a lot of educated people at that time, a kind of proto-Marxist, a socialist. He believed that he could use the thriller not only to entertain but also as a political tool, to say something about the state of the nation.
Visit Charles Cumming's website.
The Page 69 Test: A Spy By Nature.
My Book, The Movie: The Spanish Game.
The Page 69 Test: Typhoon.