The spy and espionage novels I love and encourage my friends to read

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I devoured historical works. In fact, the city librarian told my mother when I reached my teens. that I had read every book in the Children’s section on the Civil War and they recommended I get adult privileges. In my teenage years, I developed a taste for spy novels thanks to Ian Fleming. However, as I matured, I became drawn to the less gadgety stories in the genre like the books I recommend here and write myself. I have no unique expertise in the area beside a desire to learn more about the field so my own work will inform as well as entertain. 


I wrote...

Pact with the Devil

By Richard Powell,

Book cover of Pact with the Devil

What is my book about?

In the Second World War’s last days, Captain James Ross commands a rifle company, while Justine Rothstein leads a band of partisans hunting Nazis. They join forces to liberate a Nazi death camp in Austria. Once they succeed, each go their separate ways. With the Second World War drawing to a close, a second conflict between superpowers emerges. 

In this climate, Justine and Ross meet again at the Nuremberg war crimes commission. Justine searches desperately for her family deported by the Nazis and Ross investigates the Holocaust’s perpetrators. Together, they uncover a plot to supply a Nazi superweapon to the Russians—a bomber that can deliver a nuclear weapon from space. Despite this peril, Justine and Ross strive to expose this conspiracy. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Richard Powell Why did I love this book?

While not the first book in the series this is the book where the main character, George Smiley, finally gets a place to shine. Discredited and cuckold, George Smiley’s life appears ruined and pointless. But a questionable character appears with a tale suggesting a traitor in the service that George Smiley dedicated his life to. Thrust into the spotlight, he is revealed as a true master spy as he unmasks the traitor and reveals the arch-villain driving the forces that wrecked his life in the first place. For me, this book touched multiple hot buttons, along with the history, it is a chilling mystery. And the plot is not driven by a reliance on gadgets. After reading this series, I devoured his remaining works in this genre. This book is the classic espionage novel.

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 The Kill Artist

Richard Powell Why did I love this book?

An art restorer who spies on the side? What is not to love? After an assassin kills his son and gravely injures him and his wife, he steps away from the spy world to concentrate on the art. But, of course, he is drawn back in with the chance for revenge. Silva creates a world where the reader can sympathize with a killer along with the cause that drives him to act. I found myself on the edge of my seat with every turning page. I have since read the rest of the series and hope others do as well. A treat that can’t be passed up.

By Daniel Silva,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Kill Artist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Wily old Israeli intelligence chief recalls former agents in order to eliminate top Palestinian terrorist. One agent is now an art restorer, the other a fashion model. Ten years before on a mission to destroy the Arab Black September group they were briefly lovers. Now their pasts and their enemies come back to haunt them, as the terrorist murders ambassadors in Paris and Holland. Will the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks be his next target? And what motivates the terrorist? Is it politics, or is it possibly personal? Set mainly in London, but with forays into Paris, Amsterdam, the Middle East and…


Book cover of The Good German

Richard Powell Why did I love this book?

This particular time and place fascinate me. The cold war is ramping up. Dirty deals abound while deviltry floats in the air or can be found around any corner. It was a crucial time in history and shaped much of what happens today throughout the world. And the story mixes intrigue and romance. Will the hero find his love plus uncover the plot? The suspense can’t be beaten.

By Joseph Kanon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Good German as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jake Geismar cut his teeth as a foreign correspondent in pre-war Berlin. When he returns in 1945 to cover the Potsdam conference he finds the city unrecognisable - streets have vanished beneath the rubble, familiar landmarks truncated by high explosive. But amongst the ruins Berliners survive, including some he knew and, miraculously, his lost love, Lena. However, in the same way she refused to leave with him before the war, Lena won't join him now without finding her husband and Emil has disappeared from the safe care of the Americans who, turning a blind eye to his links with Hitler,…


Book cover of Night Soldiers

Richard Powell Why did I love this book?

God help me, along with my fascination with espionage I am a history buff. I long to discover how things became what they are today and Furst does it in this series. While seeing the forces that launched the Second World War unfold, he shows you see the seeds sown for the cold war that follows. While I picked book one from my bias toward watching a world being born, all the books in the series are a great read.

By Alan Furst,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bulgaria, 1934. A young man is murdered by the local fascists. His brother, Khristo Stoianev, is recruited into the NKVD, the Soviet secret intelligence service, and sent to Spain to serve in its civil war. Warned that he is about to become a victim of Stalin's purges, Khristo flees to Paris. Night Soldiers masterfully re-creates the European world of 1934-45: the struggle between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia for Eastern Europe, the last desperate gaiety of the beau monde in 1937 Paris, and guerrilla operations with the French underground in 1944. Night Soldiers is a scrupulously researched panoramic novel, a…


Book cover of The Company: A Novel of the CIA

Richard Powell Why did I love this book?

As I mentioned before, I am a history buff. This book traces the cold war and the CIA through the lives of three wonderful characters. A loyal agent, a Russian spy, and a mole in American intelligence are all done in a way that puts you in their shoes from the Cold War’s start through the demise of the Soviet Union. Littell keeps you on the edge of your seat while teaching you what actually happened. A must-read for spy aficionados.

By Robert Littell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling spy novel The Company lays bare the history and inner workings of the CIA. This critically acclaimed blockbuster from internationally renowned novelist Robert Littell seamlessly weaves together history and fiction to create a multigenerational, wickedly nostalgic saga of the CIA-known as "the Company" to insiders. Racing across a landscape spanning the legendary Berlin Base of the '50s, the Soviet invasion of Hungary, the Bay of Pigs, Afghanistan, and the Gorbachev putsch, The Company tells the thrilling story of agents imprisoned in double lives, fighting an amoral, elusive, formidable enemy-and each other-in an internecine battle within…


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Book cover of Liddy-Jean Marketing Queen and the Matchmaking Scheme

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Interested in espionage, spies, and Germany?

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