Spy Novels to Read While Stuck at Home

From a Wall Street Journal story headlined “The Best Spy Novels to Read While Stuck at Home”:

John Wetzler deftly summed up some of the classics of the genre with his recommendations: “Although you could say it is not technically a spy novel (the protagonist is an ordinary man),” Mr. Wetzler writes, “‘A Coffin for Dimitrios’ by Eric Ambler has all the elements and is the best of all the hundreds I have read. Ambler and Somerset Maugham were inspirations for Ian Fleming, and Maugham’s ‘Ashenden’ stories are near the top of my list. Fleming’s finest work to me is the short story ‘Quantum of Solace,’ in which he seems to channel Maugham.”. . .

While the most frequently mentioned author was John le Carré—especially “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,”“Smiley’s People” and his other George Smiley novels—coming in a close second was Daniel Silva, who began his Gabriel Allon series in 2000 with “The Kill Artist.”. . .

More action-oriented tales of espionage include Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp series, including “American Assassin” (“Still can’t believe we lost this amazing writer at just 47!” lamented one reader) as well as the Scot Harvath books of Brad Thor. “During these times of quarantine and distancing,” Marc Harrold writes, “finding a new novel is great but finding a new series is gold!” For those who prefer old-fashioned intrigue, Robert Harris’s works (including “An Officer and a Spy” and “Fatherland”) were much-recommended. . . .

Some favorite spy novels of WSJ readers. . .

• William Boyd’s “Restless”—Donna Ticchi (“My favorite spy novel”)

• William F. Buckley Jr.’s “Saving the Queen”Bill Meehan (“the first of 11 novels featuring the CIA’s Blackford Oakes”)

• Jack Carr’s “The Terminal List” and “True Believer”Gabriel Diaz (“they really need to be read together”)

• Karen Cleveland’s “Need to Know”Robert Schwed (“the story is, perhaps, one of the best fictional examples of ‘the long game’”)

• Charles Cumming’s “The Trinity Six”Dave Dettloff

• Len Deighton’s “Berlin Game” and his Bernard Samson series —Bill Rule, Constance Thompson and others

• Vince Flynn’s “American Assassin,” “Protect and Defend” and other Mitch Rapp books —Dana McCreesh, Matt Scott and others

• Ken Follett’s “Eye of the Needle”Len Caronia

• Frederick Forsyth’s “The Day of the Jackal”Alan Erickson

• Alan Furst’s “A Hero of France”Carl Shurley

• Graham Greene’s “Our Man in Havana”Chris Lingwall

• Robert Harris’s “Enigma”Seth Hirschfeld

• George Howe’s “Call It Treason”Robert Hugins

• David Ignatius’s “Body of Lies”David Nichols

• Joseph Kanon’s “Leaving Berlin”Marlowe Charmaine

• Robert Littell’s “The Company: A Novel of the CIA”Chris Blake (“Fantastic”)

• Jason Matthews’s “Red Sparrow” and the “Red Sparrow” trilogy —Mark Fisher

• Charles McCarry’s “The Tears of Autumn”Steven Jager, Marshall Peterson

• David Morrell’s “The Brotherhood of the Rose”Sean Cameron (“my favorite spy novel of all time”)

• Patrick O’Brian’s “The Fortune of War”Charles Long (“I love the character Stephen Maturin, although I admit I was conflicted to root for him against the French-American Alliance”)

• Daniel Silva’s “The Kill Artist,” “The New Girl” and the rest of the Gabriel Allon series —Richard A. Barnhill, Grant Bledsoe, Patrick Downs, Gerald Flecknell, Joe Harris, Rikki Klieman (“start at the beginning”), Barbara Kruppa, Brian Merrick, Matthew Swendiman

• Brad Thor’s “Backlash”Gabriel Diaz, Mark Gilbertson, John Hohneker

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