100 books like Slow Horses

By Mick Herron,

Here are 100 books that Slow Horses fans have personally recommended if you like Slow Horses. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

Merle Nygate Author Of The Righteous Spy

From my list on spy books that spies read and sometimes wrote themselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve written and script edited in a lot of different genres, from factual drama to sitcom, children’s TV to fantasy. I’ve always loved spy stories, and I’ve always wanted to write one. Recently, at the University of East Anglia I studied for an MA in Crime Fiction, and that’s where I finally got the chance to study espionage and write a spy novel myself. I hope you enjoy my selection of books if you haven’t already read them. Or even if you have. They’re all so good that I feel like re-reading them right now. 

Merle's book list on spy books that spies read and sometimes wrote themselves

Merle Nygate Why did Merle love this book?

This is a non-fiction book but it reads like a novel and explores one of the great mysteries of the spy world: how on earth did Kim Philby manage to betray not only his country but also his friends over so many years? 

A former spy I had the privilege of interviewing described Philby as a shit, so maybe there’s the answer. I think this is a terrific read, and although Macintyre probably isn’t a spy, like Deighton, he knows them. 

By Ben Macintyre,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked A Spy Among Friends as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kim Philby was the most notorious British defector and Soviet mole in history. Agent, double agent, traitor and enigma, he betrayed every secret of Allied operations to the Russians in the early years of the Cold War.

Philby's two closest friends in the intelligence world, Nicholas Elliott of MI6 and James Jesus Angleton, the CIA intelligence chief, thought they knew Philby better than anyone, and then discovered they had not known him at all. This is a story of intimate duplicity; of loyalty, trust and treachery, class and conscience; of an ideological battle waged by men with cut-glass accents and…


Book cover of Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies

Larry Enmon Author Of Class III Threat

From my list on spies from a retired secret service agent.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, I always wanted to be a Secret Service agent. As an adult, I became one. The job introduced me to the classified and shadowy world of national security. I traveled the globe, working in places I'd only read about in novels and meeting people who seemed like well-written characters from a book. When I was assigned as a liaison agent to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, I attended numerous FBI and CIA schools—even the facility known as The Farm. But through it all, I read! When I retired and had time to think about what I did, I figured I'd try writing.

Larry's book list on spies from a retired secret service agent

Larry Enmon Why did Larry love this book?

I have always been fascinated with WWII war stories, especially those involving intelligence operations.

Double Cross is one of the most unbelievable stories I've ever read. It's a nonfiction book that's so incredible it almost sounds like fiction. The British scored success after success against all the German intelligence services to keep the Germans guessing about dozens of Allied military activities, including the actual site of the D-Day landings.

MI6 might get all the cool James Bond movies made about it, but MI5 was the real star of this book.

By Ben Macintyre,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Double Cross as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

D-Day, 6 June 1944, the turning point of the Second World War, was a victory of arms. But it was also a triumph for a different kind of operation: one of deceit, aimed at convincing the Nazis that Calais and Norway, not Normandy, were the targets of the 150,000-strong invasion force.

The deception involved every branch of Allied wartime intelligence - the Bletchley Park code-breakers, MI5, MI6, SOE, Scientific Intelligence, the FBI and the French Resistance. But at its heart was the 'Double Cross System', a team of double agents controlled by the secret Twenty Committee, so named because twenty…


Book cover of All the Light We Cannot See

Michael Allan Scott Author Of Facing North, Headed South

From my list on brilliant genre defying storytelling.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m of the opinion that good writers draw from life experience. Here are the broad strokes: a Boy Scout reporter at the 1964 national Jamboree, a drummer in country, rock, and jazz bands, a SCUBA instructor, a commercial real estate developer, a drug addict, and an inmate in the penal system. I’ve been reading and writing almost from day one. Most of my early work is crap. I’ve learned the hard way what makes a story worth telling and how best to tell it. Read my recommendations and decide for yourself. After all, it’s your opinion that counts.  

Michael's book list on brilliant genre defying storytelling

Michael Allan Scott Why did Michael love this book?

This book has everything I look for in great storytelling in spades: real people doing their best to cope with extraordinary circumstances, masterfully crafted by an author who loves his work.

Some will call this a historical novel; some will pigeonhole it as a war novel. In my view, it easily exceeds all such classifications. It is an incredible piece of work. I use this book for reference, to remind me how it’s done. 

By Anthony Doerr,

Why should I read it?

40 authors picked All the Light We Cannot See as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2015 PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR FICTION

A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II

Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.'

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic…


Book cover of A Gentleman in Moscow

Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi Author Of Legacy of the Third Way

From my list on books to take you to the future.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a young age, I've been captivated by evolution and its implications for the future. I immersed myself in classical works of philosophy and literature that explored human emotions and our relentless drive to succeed against all odds, advancing human knowledge and shaping society. This fascination with understanding the future led me to write op-ed pieces on foreign policy and geopolitics for prominent newspapers in South Asia. My desire to contribute to a better future inspired me to author three nonfiction books covering topics such as the Islamic Social Contract, Lessons from the Quran, and Reflections on God,  Science, and Human Nature. 

Abdul's book list on books to take you to the future

Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi Why did Abdul love this book?

Russia is once again in the headlines, sparking a geopolitical contest between her and the West.

The period immediately following the Second World War can be viewed as a romantic era, marked by new hope for peace and the rebuilding of the world. The establishment of the UN aimed to resolve power struggles at the negotiating table rather than on the battlefield. 

These elements are all found in this novel, which delves into the past to shed light on Russia's psyche and how it might shape the future. It effectively connects the past with the near future. House arrest is common in oppressive regimes across the developing world.

What intrigued me was that the protagonist was placed under hotel arrest and restricted, punished for a crime he didn't commit. It was a captivating read, especially given the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which will undoubtedly have far-reaching consequences for…

By Amor Towles,

Why should I read it?

31 authors picked A Gentleman in Moscow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The mega-bestseller with more than 2 million readers, soon to be a major television series

From the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Lincoln Highway and Rules of Civility, a beautifully transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and…


Book cover of The Brother: The Untold Story of the Rosenberg Case

Jonathan Schneer Author Of The Lockhart Plot: Love, Betrayal, Assassination and Counter-Revolution in Lenin's Russia

From my list on a historian's view about spies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a modern British historian who loves to read thrillers and non-fiction histories of spies. I’ve done it all my adult life. Moreover, I’ve always been fascinated by the Russian Revolution: its early idealism, the curdling of idealism. When the daughter of Moura von Benckendorff, (R.H. Bruce Lockhart’s great love) told me about her mother and Lockhart, I realized I had an opportunity to combine my vocation and my avocation. The result is my book, The Lockhart Plot.

Jonathan's book list on a historian's view about spies

Jonathan Schneer Why did Jonathan love this book?

I grew up believing that the US Government framed and then executed Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953 to whip up anti-Communist hysteria. I was wrong. First of all, Julius was guilty; secondly, it was not the government that framed Ethel, but her own brother, David Greenglass. He did it to save his own skin, for he had passed documents to his brother-in-law (although they proved worthless to the Russians). Also, he wanted to save his wife, who had typed a few things for Julius. Sixty years later he came clean to Sam Roberts. This book is a revelation, an examination of the mind of a sociopath. Like Kim Philby, David Greenglass had no heart, nor pity, nor regrets. 

By Sam Roberts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A fresh and fast-paced study of one of the most important crimes of the twentieth century” (The Washington Post), The Brother now discloses new information revealed since the original publication in 2003—including an admission by his sons that Julius Rosenberg was indeed a Soviet spy and a confession to the author by the Rosenbergs’ co-defendant.

Sixty years after their execution in June 1953 for conspiring to steal atomic secrets, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg remain the subjects of great emotional debate and acrimony. The man whose testimony almost single-handedly convicted them was Ethel Rosenberg’s own brother, David Greenglass, who recently died.…


Book cover of Just One Damned Thing After Another

Yvonne Kjorlien Author Of Memoirs of a Reluctant Archaeologist

From my list on kick-ass women come from screwed up families.

Why am I passionate about this?

On the surface, my childhood was characterized by 1980s unsupervised country freedom in rural Alberta. Deeper in, my history involved emotional abuse and neglect. I wanted nothing more than to be seen and loved for my true self. The library was a refuge, but the fiction section allowed me to find the community I so greatly desired. I was seen and loved by the characters I read. They showed me it was possible to be myself–loudly and audaciously–and still be accepted. I read and now write books that delve into themes of identity, autonomy, and acceptance because I still struggle with these themes today. 

Yvonne's book list on kick-ass women come from screwed up families

Yvonne Kjorlien Why did Yvonne love this book?

The title made me stop mid-step. Sometimes, a book title is misleading. I’ve been burned before. I finally borrowed it from the library and found myself smitten by the “Dramatis Thingummy” at the very beginning and headlong in love by the end.

I re-read this series often: I weird out my neighbors by laughing so hard I can’t breathe; I seek the community of St. Mary’s. Mostly, I love Max. For all her flaws, her sarcasm, her deep-seated need to go down in flames, I love her to bits. She gives me hope that no matter how screwed up a person may be, they can find love and a place in the world. This is the first book in a many-book series. With short stories. And Christmas specials. All of which I now own.

By Jodi Taylor,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Just One Damned Thing After Another as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Time Travel meets History in this explosive bestselling adventure series.

`So tell me, Dr Maxwell, if the whole of History lay before you ... where would you go? What would you like to witness?'

When Madeleine Maxwell is recruited by the St Mary's Institute of Historical Research, she discovers the historians there don't just study the past - they revisit it.

But one wrong move and History will fight back - to the death. And she soon discovers it's not just History she's fighting...

Follow the tea-soaked disaster magnets of St Mary's as they rattle around History. Because wherever the…


Book cover of Dogs of War: A Spy Thriller

Eric Coulson Author Of The Chrysalis Option

From my list on espionage and intrigue in Great Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been in love with London and the UK since I started reading British thrillers over 40 years ago. When I finally had the chance to live in London as a US diplomat, I was able to see so many of those places that had filled my imagination for years. I have my JD from Southern Illinois University. I have worked for the US Army and the US State Department. I now support my wife Karen, who is a US Diplomat.

Eric's book list on espionage and intrigue in Great Britain

Eric Coulson Why did Eric love this book?

I have loved this book for 40 years and have read it almost annually.

Forsyth’s detailed descriptions of all aspects of the book make you think you are on the streets of London, in the meetings and the restaurants. While much of the action takes place abroad, its beating heart is London. When I lived there, I visited many of the places described.

By Frederick Forsyth,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dogs of War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times bestselling author Frederick Forsyth delivers an international thriller that takes readers into the darkest hearts of men and nations…
 
In a remote corner of the impoverished African republic of Zangaro lies Crystal Mountain. At certain times of the day, the mountain itself seems to glow with a strange light. Only the ruthless and untouchable tycoon Sir James Manson knows why: the mountain contains billions of dollars worth of the world’s most valuable mineral—platinum. And he wants it all.

To do so, he must first remove the unfriendly government currently in power and replace it with a…


Book cover of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Yvonne Kjorlien Author Of Memoirs of a Reluctant Archaeologist

From my list on kick-ass women come from screwed up families.

Why am I passionate about this?

On the surface, my childhood was characterized by 1980s unsupervised country freedom in rural Alberta. Deeper in, my history involved emotional abuse and neglect. I wanted nothing more than to be seen and loved for my true self. The library was a refuge, but the fiction section allowed me to find the community I so greatly desired. I was seen and loved by the characters I read. They showed me it was possible to be myself–loudly and audaciously–and still be accepted. I read and now write books that delve into themes of identity, autonomy, and acceptance because I still struggle with these themes today. 

Yvonne's book list on kick-ass women come from screwed up families

Yvonne Kjorlien Why did Yvonne love this book?

I admit it: I underestimated Flavia de Luce.

She is 11 years old, self-schooled, and lives outside a small English town in the 1950s. She is overlooked and underestimated by everyone. Deep inside, I’m still 11 years old, underestimated, and overlooked. I had an insatiable desire to learn about my environment, and I often saw things others didn’t. Flavia also reminds me of my childhood living in the country in the 1980s. I ran unchecked, safe, and constantly delighted in discovering new things about my corner of the world. I wince at the de Luce family politics. I cheer Flavia’s investigations and her fearlessness. I want nothing more than to stay in Flavia’s 11-year-old world forever. She is the kick-ass kid I wanted to be. 

By Alan Bradley,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Meet Flavia: Mystery Solver. Master Poisoner. 11 Years Old.

England 1950. At Buckshaw, the crumbling country seat of the de Luce family, very-nearly-eleven-year-old Flavia is plotting revenge on her older sisters.

Then a dead bird is left on the doorstep, which has an extraordinary effect on Flavia's eccentric father, and a body is found in the garden. As the police descend on Buckshaw, Flavia decides to do some investigating of her own.

Praise for the historical Flavia de Luce mysteries:
'The Flavia de Luce novels are now a cult favourite' Mail on Sunday

'A cross between Dodie Smith's I Capture…


Book cover of Casino Royale

Eric Coulson Author Of The Chrysalis Option

From my list on espionage and intrigue in Great Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been in love with London and the UK since I started reading British thrillers over 40 years ago. When I finally had the chance to live in London as a US diplomat, I was able to see so many of those places that had filled my imagination for years. I have my JD from Southern Illinois University. I have worked for the US Army and the US State Department. I now support my wife Karen, who is a US Diplomat.

Eric's book list on espionage and intrigue in Great Britain

Eric Coulson Why did Eric love this book?

Every Bond book has a London connection. You could put almost any Bond book on this list, but I chose this one because it is the first.

I feel a sense of connection to the protagonist and the city because this is where the missions originate. Even as the story plays out in northern France, communication with London is key, and I feel it.

By Ian Fleming,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Casino Royale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the novel that introduced James Bond to the world, Ian Fleming’s agent 007 is dispatched to a French casino in Royale-les-Eaux. His mission? Bankrupt a ruthless Russian agent who’s been on a bad luck streak at the baccarat table.

One of SMERSH’s most deadly operatives, the man known only as “Le Chiffre,” has been a prime target of the British Secret Service for years. If Bond can wipe out his bankroll, Le Chiffre will likely be “retired” by his paymasters in Moscow. But what if the cards won’t cooperate? After a brutal night at the gaming tables, Bond soon…


Book cover of The Road to Gandolfo

G. Craig Vachon Author Of The Knucklehead of Silicon Valley

From my list on thrillers that will also make you laugh.

Why am I passionate about this?

My hero and mentor in life was my mother. She was a remarkable human being. Her lifelong coaching was that there were only two worthwhile pursuits in life: Learning and laughter. Comedic thrillers fulfill this maxim remarkably well. They ask you to think, while also reminding us that life is pretty funny when you can take a step away from the fray. (I am an entrepreneur and venture capitalist in Silicon Valley with over 7 million airline miles cumulatively. Yes, of course, my butt is entirely flat and fat.)  

G.'s book list on thrillers that will also make you laugh

G. Craig Vachon Why did G. love this book?

I have always loved spy thrillers (Tom Clancy, Frederick Forsyth, Robert Ludlum, John le Carre, Jason Mathews) because of the plot's intellectual twists and turns, and with the characters' struggle and moral flexibility necessary to survive. But in most spy thrillers, you know who the good guys are supposed to be. Ludlum’s The Road to Gandolfo (and sequel The Road to Omaha) takes an absurd (but plausible) turn on that contention. The characters are loveable and the comedy (plus thriller are equally) fast-paced. I laughed until I cried on more than one occasion while reading this (these) book(s). 

By Robert Ludlum,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

War hero and infamous ladies’ man General MacKenzie Hawkins is a living legend. His life story has even been sold to Hollywood. But now he stands accused of defacing a historic monument in China’s Forbidden City. Under house arrest in Peking with a case against him pending in Washington, this looks like the end of Mac’s illustrious career. But he has a plan of his own: kidnap the Pope. What’s the ransom? Just one American dollar—for every Catholic in the world. Add to the mix a slew of shady “investors,” Mac’s four persuasive, well-endowed ex-wives, and a young lawyer and…


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