John LeCarre

I’m a big LeCarre fan. Can anyone recommend another writer of espionage fiction that has the same realistic plots and character development?

I don’t like Tom Clancy, but what about Deighton, any LeCarre fans who like Deighton?

Also, anyone know the proper pronunciation of his pen name?


You may also like Martin Cruz Smith - his most famous book is Gorky Park.

The pronounciation is le Car·ré. Cite.

leh-cah-RAY (AFAIK)

As for comparables, it really depends on your taste - no one seems to capture the literate, realistic, complex world that LeCarre does…

IMHO, no one will ever match John LeCarre’s character development or his hero, George Smiley, but Frederick Forsyth has done some interesting things with this genre. Check out The Fourth Protocol for some good character and plot development

Charles McCarry

You and I seem to enjoy some similarity of tastes madmonk. I also enjoy Le Carre and don’t like Clancy, but did enjoy most of Len Deighton’s. So I think there is a good chance that you will like him.

I echo Dooku’s suggestions of the early Martin Cruz Smith. There is a Smileyness to it.

I also might suggest Harris’ Fatherland. The ones after that were a let down but it was good.

Of course there are the genre classics like Graham Green and Eric Ambler. I especially enjoyed Ambler’s Coffin for Dimitrios.

Alan Furst.

Early Deighton is very good, IMO. Ipcress File, Funeral in Berlin, Horse Under Water are first-rate stories, although as WordMan noted, not comparable to LeCarre’s in their explorations of moral ambiguity. Still, Deighton seems to know a hell of a lot about the structure of espionage units, his plots are properly confounding, and his style is frequently pointed and sardonic.

In later career Deighton wrote novels with a more military slant, and in the 80’s he cranked out some padded trilogies that frankly didn’t appeal to me at all, but his best is pretty damn good.

Another guy I enjoy a lot is Robert Littell. He’s darker in tone than Deighton, and often writes from an Eastern European perspective, but The Debriefing, The Amateur, The Sisters, Mother Russia will satisfy.

In the one-off category try Moscow Magician by John Moody.

I’ll second quarx’s recommendation for Frederick Forsyth. I’ve read all his work, and my favorite is the Fist of God. After reading him, I realized how much I didn’t like LeCarre. I’ll also put in a plug for Nelson DeMille, although I can’t say he really keeps to the spy thing.

I’m a big LeCarre fan too and I would recommend Phillip Kerr’s “Berlin Noir”, a trilogy. Kerr has churned out a few mediocre pop thrillers but some of his stuff, “Dead Meat” for example, really shines, and Berlin Noir was a dark, complex, and profound thriller.

There’s a couple of Graham Greene novels you might like. Le Carre’s Tailor of Panama is explicitly a homage to Greene’s Our Man in Havana. That’s a comedy, but much of Greene’s work is pretty grim stuff, so if you appreciate the “harsh choice in a hollow world where a man of principle will be mostly destroyed in pursuit of largely pyrrhic victories if he’s lucky” aspect of Le Carre, you will find it in spades in Greene’s The Heart of the Matter, The Power and the Glory and others.