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Extended Audio Sample A Spy by Nature: A Novel Audiobook, by Charles Cumming Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (489 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Charles Cumming Narrator: Simon Vance Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Alec Milius Series Release Date: September 2007 ISBN: 9781400175178
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This is what they told me a long time ago. Only make contact in the event of an emergency. Only telephone if you believe that your position has been fatally compromised. Under no circumstances are you to approach us unless it is absolutely necessary in order to preserve the security of the operation. This is the number. Alec Milius is young, smart, and ambitious. He also has a talent for deception. He is working in a dead-end job when a chance encounter leads him to MI6, the elite British Secret Intelligence Service, handing him an opportunity to play center stage in a dangerous game of espionage. In his new line of work, Alec finds that the difference between the truth and a lie can mean the difference between life and death—and he is having trouble telling them apart. Isolated and exposed, he must play a role in which the slightest glance or casual remark can seem heavy with unintended menace. Caught between British and American Intelligence, Alec finds himself threatened and alone, unable to confide in even his closest friend. His life as a spy begins to exact a terrible price, both on himself and on those around him. Richly atmospheric and chillingly plausible, A Spy by Nature announces the arrival of British author Charles Cumming as heir apparent to masters like John le Carré and Len Deighton. A bestseller in England, it's the gripping story of a young man driven by ruthless ambition who finds himself chasing not just success but survival. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Smartly paced and intricately plotted, Cumming’s decidedly unglamorous look at industrial espionage provides plenty of elaborate deceits, double crosses and other trappings of a first-class spy thriller.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • Simon Vance excels with this thriller about double-crossing British and American spy agencies.... A suspenseful story---suspensefully told. AudioFile

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Douglas Armstrong | 2/20/2014

    " Sifting through the dubious the ethics of modern espionage (it's industrial now), Cumming exposes the motivations of a young MI6 recruit and uncomfortably probes his blind spots. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kevin Johnson | 2/14/2014

    " Well written. Not an obvious 'thriller'. Usual e-book annoyances with errors but the distractions are relatively minor. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 2/9/2014

    " If you like anti-hero spy novels you'll like this one. Reminds me of early John Le Carre. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andy Elliott | 1/1/2014

    " ok, so not all spies are James Bond! This we find out very soon where it concerns Alec Milius "The Spy" & the lead in via testing & processing is a grand way for the genre to evolve. The psychology of constant deceit, duplicitous & betrayal & it's oppressiveness on his somewhat flawed character makes for a decent read behind the evolving plot & for that side of it it's a 4 star read, however....... the last few chapters are somewhat of a disappointment as it all gets a tad ridiculous or perhaps that's a sign of Alec's immaturity & the fact he's hopelessly out of his depth after being manipulated from the get-go but there again thats the hub of this story so i'll go with a 3 star after hovering weather to jus finish it as a one off read, maybe I'll continue with Alec Milius as it's mostly a good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gary Stewart | 12/31/2013

    " Interesting...in that it is one of the nearly total "Protagonist View" reads since Wm Faulkner's "The Sound and The Fury" or Hamlet's soliloquy even tho this was not uttered but done by thinking. I am not comparing quality of the writing only the style...what Augustine would have called one long, silent "Soliloquiorum". I guess the better use of soliloquy's less common definition, "(a (usually long) dramatic speech intended to give the illusion of unspoken reflections) would be the best way to define this fairly long book. If it had been written by Ian Fleming it might have been called...not "For His Eyes Only" but "Thru His Eyes Only". "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dad | 12/28/2013

    " Read over half of book but main character was a real wimp and book seemingly had a very weak plot. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sandi | 12/27/2013

    " Set during the run up to Blair's election as Prime Minister this was a fairly tepid espionage thriller. The plot just did not do a lot for me and the main character annoyed. Listened to the audio version read by Simon Vance who was the best part of the whole endeavor. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tim | 12/17/2013

    " Not nearly as good as "The Trinity Six." "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Eric | 11/30/2013

    " A spy novel about very little. Just one long continuous never ending character study about a boring character. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary Lou | 11/21/2013

    " a very well-done character study of a young man who gets in over his head. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elizabeth Marek | 11/18/2013

    " It may deserve more than 3 stars...but Alec, the main character is so irritating, that at times it was painful to continue reading this book. I have to say that the ending makes the long tedious parts somewhat important, but overall not a good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jack | 10/17/2013

    " Post cold war spy novel featuring somewhat hesitant spy Alec Milius "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jesus | 5/20/2013

    " Fully forgettable book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole G | 5/12/2013

    " More realistic spying than most I've read, and that's saying something. Less flashy, more down-to-earth. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sue | 1/21/2013

    " Just as with the other novel I've read by this author, this was an intelligent spy story, one that didn't follow a predictable mold. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steven | 7/24/2012

    " Very tasty first-person narrative about a would-be spy whose gifts for deception and self-deception become his undoing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Darrenglass | 5/21/2012

    " The first half of the book -- in which our hero is recruited to work for MI5 -- was quite interesting and compelling. The second half -- when he is actually doing the spy work -- was far less so. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Danon | 5/16/2012

    " Awful. I do not understand why this book is rated high on the "must read" spy novels list. I tried to read "Spanish Game" after it to see if the author had improved, and I couldn't finish it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jan-Jaap van Peperstraten | 4/29/2012

    " A competent little spy thriller, marred by a few unlikely plot twists, but animated by the endearing ne'er-do-well and professional liar Alec Milius. I look forward to any follow-ups. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Megan | 9/20/2011

    " Eh. This was an impulse library book and it didnt really do it for me. I read the first few chapters and then gave up on it. It wasn't that it was bad--it just wasn't great. I'd give it another try at some point but with so much else out there, I doubt I'll get the chance. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Eric | 6/19/2011

    " A spy novel about very little. Just one long continuous never ending character study about a boring character. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vince | 2/28/2011

    " Suspenseful intrigue in a "sting"-themed story of industrial espionage. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary Lou | 12/29/2010

    " a very well-done character study of a young man who gets in over his head. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sue | 9/6/2010

    " Just as with the other novel I've read by this author, this was an intelligent spy story, one that didn't follow a predictable mold. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steven | 5/15/2010

    " Very tasty first-person narrative about a would-be spy whose gifts for deception and self-deception become his undoing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lou | 4/12/2010

    " Cumming writes good spy books. This isn't one of his best. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Leo | 4/2/2010

    " Dry British narration. The monologue goes on and on as the main character rethinks the consecueces of his actions Its about a man who wanted to join MI6 and did not make the cut but was hired by a friend of the family as an industrial spy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eddie | 3/3/2010

    " Read Before The Spanish Game. This is the first Milius book. Excellent. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 2/18/2010

    " If you like anti-hero spy novels you'll like this one. Reminds me of early John Le Carre. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Miss | 8/28/2009

    " Very smart and subtle espionage novel. Not quite Le Carre but getting there. If Cumming could make industrial espionage sound fascinating, it would be interesting to read a 'real' spy thriller. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Zhiqing | 5/14/2009

    " Cool and elegant! All the comparision between this first novel by Charles Cumming and John Le Carre's earlier novels was not off the mark. "

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About the Author

Charles Cumming is the author of the New York Times bestselling thriller The Trinity Six, as well as others including A Spy by Nature and Typhoon. He lives with his family in London.

About the Narrator

Simon Vance (a.k.a. Robert Whitfield) is an award-winning actor and an AudioFile Golden Voice with over forty Earphones Awards. He has won thirteen prestigious Audie Awards and was Booklist’s very first Voice of Choice in 2008. He has narrated more than eight hundred audiobooks over almost thirty years, beginning when he was a radio newsreader for the BBC in London.