Box 88 by Charles Cumming

‘Are you still doing those things you used to do?’

A phone call.  An unexpected death.  A funeral. 

2020, London.  Lachlan (Lockie) Kite learns, by telephone call, of the death (suspected suicide) of his once close friend, Xavier Bonnard.  Kite is a member of a secret organisation (Box 88) which draws members from former members of the British and American intelligence forces.  MI5 have heard whispers about Box 88 and have been monitoring Kite’s calls.  Attending Bonnard’s funeral may give them an opportunity to gather more information. But Kite is kidnapped immediately after the funeral.  Who has kidnapped him and why?

The story moves between the past, when Kite first became involved with Box 88 and the present, where his family is at risk if he does not provide the information sought by the kidnappers.

While MI5 (and others) are searching for Kite, we learn how he was recruited from an elite British public school to assist Box 88 gather intelligence about an Iranian businessman implicated in the Lockerbie tragedy.  The businessman, a friend of Xavier Bonnard’s father, would be visiting the Bonnards in the south of France at the same time as Kite would be visiting.

As the story shifted between past and present, I was caught up in the tension.  Would Kite be rescued?  Would his family be safe?  What was the connection between past and present?  Would Kite be forced to break his cover story in order to keep his family safe and survive?  The story drew me in: the portrayal of the young Kite particularly held my attention. There are a couple of twists which kept me guessing until quite close to the end.

If you enjoy spy stories, then I can recommend this one.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. 

Jennifer Cameron-Smith