Typhoon: A Novel
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Typhoon: A Novel

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  577 ratings  ·  75 reviews
Charles Cumming, lauded internationally as the successor to John le Carré, returns with his biggest, most ambitious thriller to date. Beginning in 1997, just as the British are about to re - turn Hong Kong to Chinese rule, Joe Lennox, a young opera tive for SIS (MI6), loses both his girlfriend and his first high profile asset—a prominent defector who disappears from a saf
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Hardcover, 416 pages
Published October 27th 2009 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,051)
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Matthew
I absolutely love the writing style. There's nary an obtuse sentence in sight in a Charles Cumming novel. The man has a knack for page-turners.

But in the case of Typhoon, there are certain elements of plotting and characterization that are downright wretched. The main character is an emotional cripple after his fiancee leaves him, which is fine if you want to take that route (personally I found his level of whinging EIGHT YEARS after the fact a tad unbelievable), but there's no way you buy such...more
Jeffrey
Dec 09, 2009 Jeffrey rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: spy fans
The novel starts in the future with Joe Lennox a british spy asking one of his agents, the narrator, to write a story about the Typhoon operation.

The novel then drops back to the past in Hong Kong, where it all began. Joe Lennox is a NOC, an undercover agent for MI6, one of the British equivalent's for the CIA. He is undercover in Hong KOng right before the turnover of that country from Great Britain to the Chinese. Isabella, a beautiful reporter is his lover, but is unaware of his real career....more
Don Booty
I recently finished Typhoon. I discovered Charles Cumming when I picked up his novel A Spy by Nature at my local library last year. I had not heard of him, and when I began reading that novel, I experienced that unique reader's thrill that comes with coming across a writer with extraordinary talent in storytelling, whose style is exceptionally lucid and engaging, and to my mind, whose insights into the human condition are astonishingly insightful for one new to the genre. Typhoon turned out to b...more
Jeremy
This story starts as the British are handing over Hong Kong to the Chinese. A strange Chinese (Wang) swims to Hong Kong and manages to bluff his way to interogation rather than repatriation. While the British agent is interogating him the Americans manage to spirit him away. And so starts the life of the strange Typhoon conspiracy. Told as a narrative of a novelist it follows the life of Joe Lennox into Hong Kong and back to the UK and then into China itself as a SIS operative always working und...more
Ian Brydon
Joe Lennox seems to be the perfect spy. Having graduated from Oxford with a first class degree in Mandarin in the mid 1990s he is, almost as a matter of course, recruited into MI6. Equally predictably, he finds himself posted to Hong Kong in the run up to the handover of the colony back to Chinese rule in 1997. All in all, his career seems to be developing entirely as he and MI6 might have planned.

Shortly before the handover an aging Chinese man swims across the straits to land in Hong Kong. He...more
Inspire me
a book with as many intriguing issues as you want to read: Spy,China, HK handover, Xijiang indenpendance movement instigated by CIA, intermingled with Pakistan intelligence. Life in modern shanghai,old bund, nightspot, French concession.... there's also a triangle love story, a young and flawed character. moral questions are raised and conflicts between MI6/CIA showed.
Of the two parties of the book, I like the first one the most, it's more intensive and character building more real.
Robin
I came across this book when browsing for something to read on a holiday. I am a big Le Carre fan but not come across Charles Cumming before. The setting for the opening also got my attention as, just like the main character, I moved to Hong Kong a few years before the handover. Overall, I really enjoyed the book and do not agree with some of the other reviewers who criticize the way characters are developed. I thought that was very good. My only (mild) complaint is that with books of this type,...more
Peter
Charles Cumming is touted as the 'new' Lecarre, an odd description since we still have Lecarre but publicists are publicists. This novel is set in China, largely post 9-11 and leading up to the 2008 Olympic Games and captures some of the essence of 'global' attitudes. A fast paced account of a too good to be true British agent and an oh so believable American one. As far as spy stories go, this one works.
Zhiqing
An excellent spy novel with my hometown Shanghai as the backdrop. I just love Charles Cumming's writing, cool and elegant, and like Le Carre's books, no unrealistic happy endings. It also gave people a better understanding of the Uighur situation in China, a complicated subject matter that didn't grab much attention in the media. Overall a very well researched and enjoyable read.
Jeanne Klier
So nice to return to a reliable author after experiencing two disappointing new books by other writers that received favorable reviews but were not to my liking. Of special interest to me, having visited Hong Kong, was the account of the reversion to China. Cumming consistently tells a good story and I always come away with a history lesson.
Sloan
Fully engaging spy thriller pairing a British spy and a journalist in a timely story about China's treatment of the Uighur population in western China. The book has a pager-turner cinematic quality that kept me flying through the book nonstop.
Nancie
In my opinion, Charles Cumming is the natural successor to John le Carre. And as wonderful as le Carre's books are, if you are either too young to remember, or lack awareness of, WWII or the Cold War, reading him has a rather untethering sensation.
Cumming's works take place in the latter part of the 20th and early 21st centuries and so if you have been paying attention at all the backdrops are familiar.
Exactly the case of Typhoon, which begins with the transfer of Hong Kong to China in 1997 and...more
Christopher Culp
A great read. But I am biased. The book is set primarily in Hong Kong and Shanghai, and, so, knowing both of those cities well, I am biased. Especially in Hong Kong, I remembered many of the locations in the book from when I lived there, and Cumming captured the atmosphere in both cities very nicely. Even apart from by bias, the characters are interesting and you care about them, and the plot is intricate, unpredictable, and frighteningly plausible. One need not know HK or Shanghai to enjoy this...more
Mark Davis
Entertaining read, once you get by the typically one-dimensional European view of Americans.
Dj
i love espionage and this is one of the very best i've ever read.
Sue
A really good spy novel - well written & intelligent.
Elyse
It took me about two-thirds of the book to really be intrigued by the story. Partly, that's because I'd recently read another novel (Palace Council) that's fairly heavy with historical detail. Partly, that's because Cumming's narrative style is just different from other espionage authors.

What I found somewhat tedious in the telling was the fact that so much of this novel is just matter-of-fact dialogue between the main characters. Very little actual activity or action until near the end. No doub...more
Michael
I had never read Cumming before but had heard reference to him as the new John Lecarre' and since Lecarre' is one of my favorites I picked this up to read. I wasn't disappointed. Cumming's style is similar to Lecarre' in his intelligent story telling with an insider's view to how CIA and MI-6 operate. This book reminded me a little of LeCarre's "The Honorable Schoolboy" which was also about MI-6 agents in Hong Kong.
The story begins in Hong Kong in the mid-90's just before it's turnover to the PR...more
Matt Crumpton
I wish I could give this book 3 1/2 stars because I liked it, but I didn't love it. The story is very well written, and it was a real page turner. Charles Cumming has been compared to John LeCarre which I feel is unfair. Charles Cumming is a much better writer than LeCarre ever will be. I thought it was a nice character study of spies in China, and I thought the characters themselves were well developed. The story was good. This a very different spy novel compared to others I have read. It had l...more
Florence Primrose
In 1997 in Hong Kong Joe Lennox, a young British Foreign Service officer, interviews a Chinese but suddenly Joe is out. We jump forward to 2004 when there are uprisings in western China.

Who is responsible for these? On one hand the insurgents are unhappy, but who is funding them? What part does the U.S. government play?
Spirohir
I really enjoyed this book. It was a page-turner with a sometimes outrageous plot but you could smell and feel the cities of Hong Kong just before the Handover and Shanghai rising through the pages. Admittedly there is some rhetoric that feels a little trite but once you get past that, an excellent book to lose yourself in for a few days.
Jill
Typhoon is a fast-paced spy thriller set in Hong Kong at the time of its handover from Britain to China and in Shanghai during the lead up to Beijing Olympics. There is interesting background on minority groups in China and the conflict between British intelligence and the CIA, but the conspiracy theories are a bit far fetched.
Mary Jordan Samuel
I was highly doubtful when I read about this book but I was immediately enthralled with the characters and their relationship to each other within the first couple chapters (note - short chapters are always a good sign!). The backdrop of China and Hong Kong provides an exotic locale for the story that serves as its own character. It was a history lesson as well -- but told to where someone like me, who doesn't follow current events very well, much les current events of ten years ago, can follow...more
Sheri
More modern spy thrills from Cumming, set this time primarily in Hong Kong and China around and after the time of the turn-over of Hong Kong back to the Chinese government. Gotta love Cumming, once again he has it in for the American CIA.
David Hull
Excellent - my 2nd Charles Cumming novel, and an equally, if not even better read than the first. For one thing, 'Typhoon's' protagonist, Joe Lennox, is a whole lot more likable a character than 'A Spy By Nature's' narcissistic Alec Milius. This was a fast-paced, absorbing novel, set in its initial years around the historic return to Chinese rule of Hong Kong in 1997. It features all the international intrigue of a first-class spy classic, with updated images of 'real-life' James Bonds. I can't...more
John
My third Charles Cumming in as many months and his other three books are on the to-read list for the next three months. Whilst I enjoyed this one a lot, I wouldn't rate as highly as the two Alec Milius novels, oddly enough because I felt a lot less empathy with Joe Lennox, the protagonist, than I had for Milius, the non hero of earlier novels.
Cummings' writing style is simple and clear and makes you want to turn the page, albeit that he conveys a lot of intriguing background information, this ti...more
Catherine Woodman
I loved this book. I got it out of the library because it was one of the NYT 50 best books of last year that sounded like I would like it, and the library had--it is actually more of a thriller-spy novel than a straight ahead fiction novel--so perfect for my plane rise into Lake Tahoe--finished it before the plane left Denver, actually. Great main character, unlikable American spy who gets the girl and we all feel bad about that, but she probably would have distracted our hero from the job at ha...more
Kevin Scott
I'm accustomed to Cumming's work being a slow burn--it seems like not much is happening until the very end, when a lot happens--so that didn't put me off about this one (though I thought more "happened" in this one than in most of his other novels). My only real cavil with this novel is the occasional use of first person by Will, when it never really served any purpose. The other narrative devices--particularly the letters from Tom--also seemed contrived and unnecessarily interrupted the flow of...more
Geevee
The second of Charles Cummings' books that I have read. The action takes place firstly in Hong Kong leading up to the colony's handover to the Chinese in 1997 and then some years later in China itself.

A Chinese professor, terrorists/freedom fighters, CIA operatives and Britain's SIS all cross each other and vie for attention and information in formulating their countries, organisations' or individual plans. There are links to oil, the Olympics, people displacement and political influence alongs...more
Stephen Redwood
Spy story set in HK, London and China. Written by a guy who seems to have been a UK intelligence operative at some point, so it has some interesting insights into the murky workings of the profession. Not quite the intricacy of Le Carre, but a reasonably credible plot line with a nice reversal of the US intelligence smart/ UK intelligence buffoons line that we see in all the Hollywood movies, to UK intelligence smart/ US intelligence all politics and power games. Love story is one for the romant...more
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Charles Cumming is British writer of spy fiction. His international bestselling thrillers including A Spy By Nature, The Spanish Game, Typhoon and The Trinity Six. A former British Secret Service recruit, he is a contributing editor of The Week magazine and lives in London.

http://us.macmillan.com/author/charle...
More about Charles Cumming...
The Trinity Six A Foreign Country A Spy by Nature The Spanish Game A Colder War

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“I am not anti-American,' he said. 'I just despise the current American administration. I despair that Bush has made ordinary, decent people all over the world think twice about what was once, and still could be again, a great country, when what happened on September 11th should have made ordinary, decent people all over the world embrace America as never before. I don't like it that neo-conservative politicians bully their so-called allies while playing to the worst, racist instincts of their own bewildered electorate. I don't like it that we live in an era where to be anti-war is to be anti-American, to be pro-Palestine is to be anti-Semitic, to be critical of Blair is somehow to be supportive of Putin and Chirac. All anybody is asking for in this so-called age of terror is some leadership. Yet everywhere you look in public life there is no truth, no courage, no dignity to speak of.” 16 likes
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