The best books about ordinary people becoming involved in life threatening matters of state, and their escape

Why am I passionate about this?

I enjoy reading books that have an element of excitement, the element of the chase appeals, as does the idea of an ordinary citizen being caught up by accident or coincidence in either international espionage or terrorist situations. I have devoted many years to writing, and have written up to 20 novels of which four have so far been published, mainly on themes as described above, or in the espionage field similar to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy where the investigator, starting from scratch, is attempting to trace a mole within the organisation.


I wrote...

Cut to the Chase

By Ray Scott,

Book cover of Cut to the Chase

What is my book about?

ASIO ask an Australian sales representative, Harry Wallace, to collect a package for them, whilst on a business trip to Indonesia. Unfortunately, the messenger is being pursued and compromises Wallace. After evading pursuers and delivering the package to the Australian embassy he returns to Australia, but on a subsequent trip to UK, is set up by an Indonesian revolutionary faction, who have murdered a rival. They compromise Wallace, but he escapes and goes on the run pursued by the British police, plus the revolutionaries who want to silence him. He hides on the English canal system, and with the aid of an Australian ASIO agent evades captures and arrest to prove his innocence. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Fellow Passenger

Ray Scott Why did I love this book?

The main character becomes accidentally involved in international intrigue when he breaks into a house formerly owned by his father, which has become a government establishment. He becomes the target of both the British security services and the Russians, who believe he knows more than he does about the secret work carried on at the establishment. The book deals with his adventures and means of evading both Moscow and MI5.

I like and recommend this book, and others by this author, because of the theme of an ordinary individual being drawn into intention intrigue and finding his life in danger, together with what he does to evade capture both by the enemy and the police. Household also wrote his books with a cynical humour at times which I find absorbing.

By Geoffrey Household,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fellow Passenger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A brilliant story of espionage and disguise from the original master of spy fiction.
From the author of the modern classic ROGUE MALE

Claudio Howerd-Wolferstan is neither a communist nor a spy. Yet he breaks into a top-security Government hostel to retrieve the family treasure.

With a spot secured on the wanted lists of both the British police and Russian communist leaders, he is forced to run from a charge of high treason. A master of disguise, he bluffs his way out of many a dangerous situation and outwits his pursuers. But how long can his luck last?

The speed…


Book cover of Journey Into Fear

Ray Scott Why did I love this book?

The main character, an armaments engineer, becomes a target of the (then) Nazi government in Germany to prevent his expertise from being used to cement an Anglo-Turkish alliance in 1939. Their aim is to assassinate him. The story details the situation of an ordinary citizen caught up in international intrigue and how he manages to cope with it.

My liking and recommendation of this book is similar to that of my first choice, an innocent and ordinary individual who finds himself on the run to avoid capture and possible death by enemy agents, the means he utilises to make himself inconspicuous and evade them, and his fury at the end which enables him to turn the tables despite being out of his depth. 

By Eric Ambler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Journey Into Fear as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A thrilling, intense, and masterfully plotted classic suspense tale from one of the founders of the genre.

Returning to his hotel room after a late-night flirtation with a cabaret dancer at an Istanbul boîte, Graham is surprised by an intruder with a gun. What follows is a nightmare of intrigue for the English armaments engineer as he makes his way home aboard an Italian freighter. Among the passengers are a couple of Nazi assassins intent on preventing his returning to England with plans for a Turkish defense system, the seductive cabaret dancer and her manager husband, and a number of…


Book cover of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Ray Scott Why did I love this book?

Because of leakages of top secret information the top echelons of MI 5 in London realise there must be a mole in their organisation. They appoint George Smiley to investigate and dig out the mole. This is like a detective novel in a sense, the mole is unknown and is slowly brought to light by extensive probing.

I recommend this for the slow but sure progress made by the investigator as he slowly uncovers facts and clues to ascertain the identity of the mole who is betraying government secrets to Moscow. I like the aspect of starting from scratch and gradually working towards the end result.

By John le Carré,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Legacy of Spies.

The man he knew as "Control" is dead, and the young Turks who forced him out now run the Circus. But George Smiley isn't quite ready for retirement-especially when a pretty, would-be defector surfaces with a shocking accusation: a Soviet mole has penetrated the highest level of British Intelligence. Relying only on his wits and a small, loyal cadre, Smiley recognizes the hand of Karla-his Moscow Centre nemesis-and sets a trap to catch the traitor.

The Oscar-nominated feature film adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is directed by…


Book cover of Absolute Power

Ray Scott Why did I love this book?

Another story where a man is pitchforked into an international situation by accident, he is burgling a billionaire’s house when he observes, through a one-way mirror, the billionaire’s wife having sex with a man who Luther Whitney, the observer, recognises as the President of the United States. The seduction ends badly in a quarrel which results in the death of the woman at the hands of the Secret Service. Will the President be brought to justice, even though the witness is later found and killed?

I like the plot, where a murder is committed which involves a cover up perpetrated by top government circles, which is uncovered because a not so innocent man, a burglar, is an unexpected witness. The book is also complicated by relationships between the witness, prosecutors and defence lawyers, but a book not easy to put down.

By David Baldacci,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Absolute Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When burglar Luther Whitney breaks into a Virginia mansion, he witnesses a brutal crime involving the president -- a man who believes he can get away with anything -- and now, Luther may be the only one who can stop him in this #1 New York Times bestselling thriller.

In a heavily guarded mansion in the Virginia countryside, professional burglar and break-in artist Luther Whitney is trapped behind a two-way mirror. What he witnesses destroys his faith not only in justice, but in all he holds dear.

What follows is an unthinkable abuse of power and criminal conspiracy, as a…


Book cover of The Jutland Scandal: The Truth about the First World War's Greatest Sea Battle

Ray Scott Why did I love this book?

This book discusses the Battle of Jutland that took place in 1916, a controversial affair in that Britain expected their usual victory over a continental Fleet. However, the Royal Navy experienced a severe mauling in the process. The Germans, who also suffered severe losses, were first to reach the port and proclaimed victory, although afterwards they never ventured to sea again while the Royal Navy were out patrolling the seas again, and looking for action within a week.  The book, latest of many on this subject, analyses the battle, a case of who didn’t gain the expected victory, why not and who could have done so? 

I recommend this book, but appreciate it would have a limited appeal to those like myself, being a naval buff and having also served in the Royal Navy. The controversy over the conduct and inconclusiveness of this battle will no doubt continue for years, between those who support Jellicoe, the Fleet commander, and his successor Beatty, who commanded a squadron during the battle. 

By John Harper, Reginald Bacon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Jutland Scandal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two high-ranking officers defied the British Admiralty to tell the tale of World War I's first naval battle against Germany.

The Royal Navy had ruled the sea unchallenged for one hundred years since Nelson triumphed at Trafalgar. Yet when the Grand Fleet faced the German High Seas Fleet across the grey waters of the North Sea near Jutland, the British battleships and cruisers were battered into a draw, losing far more men and ships than the enemy.

The Grand Fleet far outnumbered and outgunned the German fleet, so something clearly had gone wrong. The public waited for the official histories…


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Magical Disinformation

By Lachlan Page,

Book cover of Magical Disinformation

Lachlan Page Author Of Magical Disinformation

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in Latin America for six years, working as a red cross volunteer, a volcano hiking guide, a teacher, and an extra in a Russian TV series (in Panama). Having travelled throughout the region and returning regularly, I’m endlessly fascinated by the culture, history, politics, languages, and geography. Parallel to this, I enjoy reading and writing about the world of international espionage. Combining the two, and based on my own experience, I wrote my novel, Magical Disinformation, a spy novel set in Colombia. While there is not a huge depth of spy novels set in Latin America, I’ve chosen five of my favourites spy books set in the region.

Lachlan's book list on spy books set in Latin America

What is my book about?

This book is a spy novel with a satirical edge which will take you on a heart-pumping journey through the streets, mountains, jungles, and beaches of Colombia. Our Man in Havana meets A Clear and Present Danger.

Magical Disinformation

By Lachlan Page,

What is this book about?

In the era of ‘fake news’ in the land of magical realism, fiction can be just as dangerous as the truth... Discover Lachlan Page’s Magical Disinformation: a spy novel with a satirical edge set amongst the Colombian peace process. Described by one reviewer as “Our Man in Havana meets A Clear and Present Danger.”

Oliver Jardine is a spy in Colombia, enamoured with local woman Veronica Velasco.

As the Colombian government signs a peace agreement with the FARC guerrillas, Her Majesty’s Government decides a transfer is in order to focus on more pertinent theatres of operation.

In a desperate attempt…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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