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Summary

The second book in Charles Cumming’s gripping new thriller series surrounding BOX 88 - a covert intelligence organisation that operates below the radar.         

A spy in one of the most dangerous places on Earth....

1993: student Lachlan Kite is sent to post-Soviet Russia in the guise of a language teacher. In reality, he is there as a spy. Top secret intelligence agency BOX 88 has ordered Kite to extract a chemical weapons scientist before his groundbreaking research falls into the wrong hands. But Kite’s mission soon goes wrong, and he is left stranded in a hostile city with a former KGB officer on his trail.

An old enemy looking for revenge....

2020: now the director of BOX 88 operations in the UK, Kite discovers he has been placed on the ‘Judas’ list - a record of enemies of Russia who have been targeted for assassination. Kite’s fight for survival takes him to Dubai, where he must confront the Russian secret state head on....

Who will come out on top in this deadly game of cat and mouse?

©2021 Charles Cumming (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"The storytelling is first-rate, with all the minutiae of spycraft, sense of place and memorable supporting characters you could wish for." (Sunday Times)

"An elegant exposition of what being a spy in the field actually feels like...evokes the world of espionage in a way the late John le Carre would have much admired." (Daily Mail)

"Some of the best writing around on the intricacies of spycraft and the high price agents pay for doing their job." (Sun)

What listeners say about JUDAS 62

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Narrator sounds like a newsreader

I thought Box 88 was a great book (and audiobook). I gather from others that this is just as good in terms of story. I have only just started listening (an hour or so in), but I find the narration relatively poor. The narrator has good accents, but otherwise sounds like a newsreader: horribly cold, disconnected, and a bit rushed. It is hard to listen to & I keep needing to rewind because I have drifted off. I wish it had been the Box 88 narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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This is a fascinating and compulsive read.

Judas 62 is the second in Comings’s Box 88 series, featuring Lachlan Kite the London head of BOX 88. A clandestine Anglo-American spy agency that developed from the CIA and MI5/MI6.

Judas 62 picks up the two main threads of Box 88, the first book in the series. Namely, Kite’s recruitment into Box 88 and Kite in the present day, with all the chaos his covert life causes in his personal life.

When Evgeny Palatnik, a Soviet defector to the West is murdered in America with Novichok, Kite sets out to avenge him. He is informed by Mocking Bird, a high level informant in Moscow, that Palatnik had been on the JUDAS list; a list of Russian scientists and intelligence officers who were living in the West and who had been singled out for assassination by Moscow. The former Russian FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko who was poisoned with polonium-210 in London had been listed as JUDAS 47. Sergei Skripal, the former GRU officer poisoned with Novichok in Salisbury, was designated JUDAS 54.

More disturbingly still for Kite is that a former alias of his, Peter Galvin, has also been placed is on the list as JUDAS 62. The novel flashes back 1993 when Kite used the Peter Galvin identity in an operation in Russia, to bring out Yuri Aranov a leading biological warfare scientist.

Kite manages to pull off an extraction in a daring escape from Russia. However his success comes at a great personal cost, not least making an enemy of Mikhail Gromik a Russian intelligence officer.

Kite believes that his being placed on the Judas list is connected with Gromik and the Aranov defection. Nearly thirty years later Gromik has risen to the top of his profession, having taken advantage of the opportunities that post-soviet Russia had to offer and is enjoying the high life in Dubai. To protect himself, Kite launches a sting operation to end all sting operations in Dubai, to bring down Gromik, using Aranov as bait.

This is a fascinating and compulsive read. Cumming gives a tantalising insight into the world of intelligence and the growing diplomatic and intelligence dispute with Russia - in a world where the gloves have come off. I haven’t read all of Cumming’s novels, I enjoyed his Thomas Kell Spy Thriller series, particularly ‘A Colder War’ and his take on the Cambridge spy-ring in ‘The Trinity Six’, as well as Box 88, but I think Judas 62 is best I’ve read so far.

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Narrator does not fit the story

The previous book in the series Box88 had a great narrator but sadly he is not on this recording. Shame as the story is good but parts don't quite work because the voice needs veracity.

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With Russia & Putin wielding their axe in the real world this gives an insight to life under their control

Well written and you felt empathy with all the characters. You get a good feel for the paranoia & brutal controlling influence of the Russian state over its citizens and foreign visitors.
Good narration and a credible ending to a good book.

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all the research is on the page

A good story, but as always, Cumming cannot leave a single piece of research out of his prose. Still needs a stronger editor.

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good follow on story

a good spy thriller. took a while to get used to the narrator's style, and intonation but the story was enjoyable and held my attention.

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ASDA value vodka

I have read several of Cummings' books with pleasure, but this is weak, smacking of a pained research job, full of tedious details trying to persuade you it's a novel. Worse, however, is the dreadful read. This is a weak and lazy production, typical of so many Audible performances -- both actor and producer can't be bothered to check the pronunciations of Russian names, or even obvious words like "Soviet". I found it unlistenable, and kept fast-forwarding.

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Loved it!

Charles cummings is one of my favourite authors so after reading box 88 I thoroughly enjoyed this! No spoilers but worth reading for the further development of lachlan Kite's character.

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Sadly not very gripping

A strangely stilted book, partly down to the new (slightly wooden) narrator but also through the storytelling.
It’s a book of two halves with the first part recalling Kite’s escapades in Edinburgh, Oxford and Russia in the mid 90s.
I preferred this section with its mundane details about music, locations and relative innocence.
The latter part follows a protracted follow-up job in the present day, set in UAE, but it’s all rather dull and over-explained.
The pandemic details are quite nice (although may not age well) but there are too many people doing not very much.
Compared to the tight storylines in other books by Cumming, this feels like a rough draft in need of an edit.
Hopefully book 3 in the series will be better.

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Calling all adolescent males !

Want to be admired/ desired? Lockie is!
So tedious, slow story and hard to keep going, makes a gentle running companion, though.

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  • Chad Morrison
  • 10-03-22

Interesting follow up

A good read, but lacks the depth the first book enjoyed.

I would recommend it.