The Mysterious Bookshop’s owner edited the new Agents of Treachery (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard), a collection of previously unpublished spy fiction.
The Tears of Autumn (1975)
By Charles Mccarry
The best novel by America’s greatest writer of espionage fiction is also the most credible account of President Kennedy’s assassination. You will believe it’s what really happened.
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1963)
By John Le Carré
This one changed espionage fiction forever with the introduction of moral relativity: Le Carré posited that the heads of the British spy network were no better than their Soviet counterparts.
The Garden of Weapons (1980)
By John Gardner
I much prefer Gardner’s thrillers starring brilliant, fearless Big Herbie Kruger to his James Bond stuff. In this one, Kruger’s setting a trap for the KGB in East Berlin—and they, of course, are setting one for him.
Child 44 (2008)
By Tom Rob Smith
Gorky Park meets 1984. The novel, loosely based on a true story, is set in the Russia of Joseph Stalin and follows a government agent investigating a serial killer who is protected by the Communist Party’s official policy: There was no crime in the Soviet Union.
Empire of Lies (2008)
By Andrew Klavan
In addition to thrills, Klavan’s story—a Muslim-terrorist plot to blow up part of New York—offers a cogent indictment of academia, which gives such an uncritical platform to Islamic radicals, and the media, which refuses to report what seems obvious to the rest of us.
Spies of the Balkans (June 15, 2010)
By Alan Furst
The World War II era belongs to Furst, and his most recent novel matches the excellence of the previous ten, which are all set in various European countries in the years leading up to global warfare. In this one, intrigue plays out in 1940 Greece as the Axis threat looms.
Six Days of the Condor (1974)
By James Grady
It’s now a cliché of espionage that the bad guys in the CIA are a greater danger to American agents than their foreign enemies. But it was new when Grady wrote it, and no one has done it better. Probably the most influential spy novel of the past 36 years.
Word of Honor (1985)By Nelson Demille
The best-seller-list regular gets more attention for his combination of politically incorrect humor and nail-biting suspense, but this Vietnam novel—bouncing between a military trial and the actions of an honorable man in an intolerable situation—is as serious as an Ebola outbreak in its depiction of the hero’s moral dilemma.
The Cold War Swap (1966)
By Ross Thomas
Wisecracking American agent Michael Padillo and his friend “Mac” McCorkle, partners in a West German bar during the Cold War, make their debut in this Edgar-winning novel, in which they haplessly try to bring rogue agents back to the West. It manages to make death and near death experiences seem both hard boiled and circuslike. Thomas’s Briarpatch and the totally original caper Chinaman’s Chance also belong on any best-of list.
A Coffin for Dimitrios (1939)
By Eric Ambler
Ambler practically invented the modern spy novel by turning the protagonist from a fearless James Bond superhero into a victim of circumstance out of his depth, who performs courageous acts primarily to survive.