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Old 11-01-2002, 07:37 PM
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Who likes good spy novels? Let's share recommendations (aka I need a new book)


I've run out of books and am looking desperately for something to engage me. Also, non-fiction isn't ruled out.

Stuff I've read and liked:

The two most obvious are:
  • John LeCarre (especially the earlier ones, like Tinker, Tailor... and The Honorable Schoolboy )
  • Len Deighton (Game/Set/Match and Hook/Line/Sinker)

Pretty well-known:
  • Alan Furst (any of his WWII books, like The Polish Soldier and Kingdom of Shadows). This guy writes incredibly atmospheric stuff.

Something I read recently, a hidden gem (and may not be available in the states)
  • Charles Cumming: A Spy by Nature

So - that's my taste. James Bond novels and anything by Ken Follett need not apply.

What have I missed?
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Old 11-01-2002, 07:41 PM
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OOPS - MODs please move to cafe society. Stat!

thanks in advance
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Old 11-02-2002, 01:52 AM
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I really like the Quiller series by Adam Hall.

For comic relief, there's the Evan Tanner series by Lawrence Block.

The Bond books by Ian Fleming are nothing at all like the movies, and infinitely superior to them. Likewise, the Matt Helm series, though I've only read a couple -- theyre hard to find.

Oh yeah, the [I]Bernie Sampson[/] series by Len Deighton is terrific.
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Old 11-02-2002, 04:37 AM
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Of course, for sheer gonzo violence, you need an Executioner book, from the series by Don Pendleton.
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Old 11-02-2002, 08:02 AM
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I wouldn't call the "Executioner" books spy novels. They are action thrillers, "Man Against the Mafia".

There is a similar series with a CIA guy who uses twin .357 pistols to mow down Russian and Chinese spies, but I can't think of the name right now.
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Old 11-02-2002, 08:22 AM
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Any Frederick Forsyth book, and most Robert Ludlum books. They probably fall into the action thriller category too, but they do have lots of spy stuff! Excellent reading anyhow.

yojimboguy is right; the Bond books are far superior to the movies.
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Old 11-02-2002, 09:01 AM
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I'll back up Fredrick Forsyth. The Fist of God was brilliant, if you like historical (Gulf War) fiction.
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Old 11-02-2002, 03:36 PM
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I'm positive I'm the only Helen MacInnes fan on earth.

Although most of her books have the same theme (unsuspecting young student/tourist accidentally drawn into intrigue) I like the breadth of her work. She wrote her first book in the late 1930s about a young Polish girl swept into the Polish Resistance during and after Hitler's invasion of Poland. Her last book (she died some time ago) concerned a journalist drawn into some sort of Soviet propaganda and disinformation plot in the 1980s. I think her books are mostly now out of print and difficult to find, but I'm sure you can still find her stuff at used book stores.
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Old 11-02-2002, 05:14 PM
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The Brotherhood of the Rose
The Fraternity of the Stone

Both by David Morrell
  #10  
Old 11-02-2002, 05:31 PM
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Ignore the fiction. Non-fiction books on the field of espionage are facinating. And occasionally terrifying.

Try this:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...05551?v=glance

You could open the book at random, & find the basis for a movie script on every page.

The chapter on Stalin's purge of the NKVD in the 20's was the most frightening thing I ever read. Ghod help us, it actually happened.
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  #11  
Old 11-02-2002, 07:23 PM
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I was incorrect in my earlier post.

Helen MacInnes' first book was Above Suspicion, in which a couple about to go to the Continent on holiday in the late 1930s are asked to deliver a message to someone and become embroiled in a Nazi plot in the process.

The book concerning the invasion of Poland is called While Still We Live.
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Old 11-02-2002, 07:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by chique
I'm positive I'm the only Helen MacInnes fan on earth.
Nope! I really like Helen MacInnes, especially the older books from the 40's and 50's, as does my mother, who originally recommended the books to me, so that's two more of us. Two of my favorites are Above Suspicion (1941) [which I see on preview that chique just mentioned] and Assignment in Brittany (1942).

I'm a huge fan of older espionage novels. My recommendation is Manning Coles (a pseudonym for two authors with those last names), who wrote a terrific series of books in the 40's and 50's set earlier (30's and 40's) about English spy Tommy Hambledon. The books are a little hard to find, but well worth the effort of tracking them down. My local public library consortium has a several of them, but mostly the later ones. If you manage to find the first two (Drink to Yesterday and A Toast to Tomorrow, both 1940), they're best read back to back. They're ripping good yarns with a nice dollop of humor. If you're looking for gritty realism and a high body count, these are not the books for you.

Speaking of ripping good yarns, I'll also put in a plug for Alistair MacLean's older books, from the 50's to about the mid-60's, when they began for some reason to really suck wind. Two of my particular favorites are Night Without End and Ice Station Zebra (which shouldn't be judged by the movie; the 10 minutes of it that I saw looked completely dorky, but the book rocks).
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Old 11-02-2002, 08:36 PM
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Try the Charlie Muffin series by Brian Freemantle.

What sets Charlie apart is that he is an utter bastard. The endings to the first two books, Charlie Muffin and Clap Hands, Here Come Charlie, are quite shocking.
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Old 11-04-2002, 02:30 PM
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Hello Moderators....


Bump...

and any chance I can get this moved to Cafe Society?
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Old 11-04-2002, 04:31 PM
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Not exactly spy, but definitely in the same spirit - I highly recommend Thomas Perry's series about Jane Whitefield. His latest, Pursuit, is pretty good also, but the Jane Whitefield books are the best.
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Old 11-04-2002, 04:38 PM
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Not exactly spy, but definitely in the same spirit - I highly recommend Thomas Perry's series about Jane Whitefield. His latest, Pursuit, is pretty good also, but the Jane Whitefield books are the best.
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Old 11-04-2002, 11:34 PM
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Shibumi by Trevanian
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Old 11-05-2002, 05:59 AM
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Hey, I like Ken Follett, although I'll admit his quality level goes up and down from book to book.

I also like A.J. Quinnell, so I don't know whether my opinion is a recommendation in his favor or not.
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Old 11-05-2002, 07:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by rexnervous
OOPS - MODs please move to cafe society. Stat!

thanks in advance
As you wish.
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Old 11-05-2002, 08:12 AM
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Eric Ambler was a phenomenal seller in his day, and some of his stuff was recently (may still be) in print in the UK. The Mask of Demetrios is a must-read.
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Old 11-05-2002, 08:21 AM
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Go thee to a used book store and hump up some Fletcher Knebble. I suggest "7 days in May" if it's a thriller you want. An oldie but is it a goodie. He has several other good ones including one where POTUS goes insane and has to be pushed out of office. Great reads on the political bend.

I'll also second Ludlum. the Bourne books are great. No movie could live up. The Road books are actually funny!

For spy don't forget Tom Clancy. I don't think I saw a mention of him. Sum of all fears teaches you how to make a nuclear weapon, and Cardinal of the Cremlin actually explains Ronald Regans "Star Wars" SDI.

Happy Reading!
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Old 11-05-2002, 08:21 AM
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rexnervous,
i would reccomend anything by phillip agee, especially "on the run" or "inside the company", genuine spy stories that are awesome reads.

unclviny
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Old 11-05-2002, 08:30 AM
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I second Adam Hall and Trevanian (sp).

While I have you here...Funeral In Berlin. Are these lines from the novel or the movie?

Palmer: I don't want to be 'orrible 'arry Palmer.
Passport guy: Who would you like to be then?
Palmer: Rock Hunter.
Passport :You'll take Palmer, and you'll like it.
  #24  
Old 11-05-2002, 08:32 AM
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Don't know if this is what you are looking for but Stephen Hunter writes some good stuff. Martin Cruz Smith writes some good stuff too, those are more murder mysteries, but still have a bit of the "spy" stuff in them. For more spy stuff though you could try Danial Silva (sp?). He does write more traditional spy novels.
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Old 11-05-2002, 08:36 AM
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Oh yeah, Alistair MacLean. Mostly adventure stuff, but The Secret Ways and Ice Station Zebra are spy novels.
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Old 11-05-2002, 02:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by TelcontarStorm
I'll also second Ludlum. the Bourne books are great. No movie could live up. The Road books are actually funny!

For spy don't forget Tom Clancy. I don't think I saw a mention of him. Sum of all fears teaches you how to make a nuclear weapon, and Cardinal of the Cremlin actually explains Ronald Regans "Star Wars" SDI.
I agree with these! I'm sure you know not to judge books by the movies made from them. The movies made from Clancy's books have been OK, but the books give you so much more insight into the workings of the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The recent Bourne Identity movie was passable, I guess, but it's unbelievable how many of the main (and best) plot elements from the book were ignored or made insignificant in the movie.
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Old 11-06-2002, 11:43 AM
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How about a novel full of characters that are double- (even triple-) agents? In fact, throughout the entire story the reader's never sure who's on which side with the exception of the obvious bad guy and the obvious good guy. There's only been a few books that I became so engrossed in that just I had to keep reading until I got to the end, this was one.

Oops, never mind, I see you've already dismissed James Bond stories. In case you change your mind, this one is Icebreaker by John Gardner, IIRC his first in the series and definately not your typical 007 adventure.
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Old 11-06-2002, 11:59 AM
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"The 11th Commandment" by...someone. It's not great, but it goes quick, and the protagonist has both my name and my alma mater! How cool is that?
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Old 11-06-2002, 12:01 PM
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Well, I came into the thread planning to suggest Len Deighton then saw you mentioned him in your OP. Doh!

So, I'll just second Helen MacInnes and Robert Ludlum.
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