The most recommended spy books

Who picked these books? Meet our 460 experts.

460 authors created a book list connected to spies, and here are their favorite spy books.
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What type of spy book?


The Fist of God

By Frederick Forsyth,

Book cover of The Fist of God

Jay Bonansinga Author Of Return to Woodbury

From the list on thrillers that begin with a bang.

Who am I?

I am a veteran novelist who believes this over all else: The opening is everything. This has been my modus operandi as a storyteller for over thirty books, as well as a half dozen screenplays. I love a great opening. It is how a reader or viewer will subconsciously decide whether they will devote themselves to a story. It is the first kiss. The first shot over the bow. The ignition, the countdown, and the launch. It is the alpha and omega… because the beginning dictates the ending. Oh my, how I love the beginning! 

Jay's book list on thrillers that begin with a bang

Why did Jay love this book?

“The man with ten minutes to live was laughing.” Thus begins one of the greatest war novels by one of the greatest living writers of espionage thrillers. 

Frederick Forsyth’s epic story of the Persian Gulf War mingles fact with fiction, and never lets up its humming current of suspense. Incidentally, that laughing man was Gerald Vincent Bull, a real historical figure who invented a super-gun for Saddam Hussein. Not exactly the safest line of work. 

His assassination triggered a Rube Goldberg series of events that only Forsyth would have the… well… foresight to use as the first sentence in this violent, epochal tale. 

By Frederick Forsyth,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Fist of God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From behind-the-scenes decision making of the Allies to the secret meeting of Saddam Hussein's war cabinet, from the brave American fliers running dangerous missions over Iraq to a heroic young spy planted deep in the heart of Baghdad, Forsyths incomparable storytelling keeps the suspense at a breakneck pace.

Peopled with vivid characters, brilliantly displaying the intricacies of intelligence operations moving back and forth between Washington and London, Baghdad and Kuwait, and revealing espionage tradecraft as only Frederick Forsyth can, The Fist of God tells the utterly convincing story of what may actually have happened behind the headlines.

A Legacy of Spies

By John le Carré,

Book cover of A Legacy of Spies

Lee Polevoi Author Of The Confessions of Gabriel Ash

From the list on the Cold War told in the first person.

Who am I?

I read Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy for the first time many years ago, while traveling aboard a Canadian National Railway train from Montreal to British Columbia. Something about the contrast between the majestic Canadian Rockies and the dark alleys of John Le Carré’s Berlin brought the Cold War fully to life and set me on the path to writing a novel of my own set during that time. (Living through some of those tense years of superpower stand-offs didn’t hurt.) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is told in third-person, but many Cold War novels written in the first person do a masterful job of evoking that troubled era. 

Lee's book list on the Cold War told in the first person

Why did Lee love this book?

The sins and tragedies of the Cold War are resurrected in Le Carré’s late-career novel, A Legacy of Spies.

After retiring from MI6, Peter Guillam is summoned back to London by his former bosses, intent on clearing up a botched spy operation first described in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. 

A Legacy of Spies shows that a story revolving around bureaucratic turf wars and incriminating paper trails can be just as suspenseful as any of James Bond’s implausible high-tech adventures.

George Smiley, among the 20th century’s most compelling fictional characters, makes a guest appearance, drawing us back into the Cold War’s darkest days, when men and women served as pawns in a geopolitical power game—and often paid the price for their role in these international dramas. 

By John le Carré,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Legacy of Spies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


The undisputed master returns with his first Smiley novel in more than twenty-five years--a #1 New York Times bestseller and ideal holiday gift.

Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, is living out his old age on the family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. The reason? His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London, and involved such characters…

Agent G

By C.T. Phipps,

Book cover of Agent G: Infiltrator

Anna Mocikat Author Of Behind Blue Eyes

From the list on cyberpunk books you won’t be able to put down.

Who am I?

I fell in love with cyberpunk when I saw Ghost in the Shell for the first time. It quickly became my favorite genre, to read, watch and write. Meanwhile, I’m one of the most renowned cyberpunk indie authors. My series Behind Blue Eyes has quickly become a favorite among readers and bloggers and I’m planning to publish many more books in the series and the genre. Besides, I’m also one of the editors of the Neo Cyberpunk anthology series, a collection of short stories contributed by contemporary cyberpunk indie authors. I hope you enjoy my list and if you want more, check out the Cyberpunk Books group on Facebook!

Anna's book list on cyberpunk books you won’t be able to put down

Why did Anna love this book?

Agent G is like James Bond with cyborgs. It’s an action-driven spy thriller with cyberpunk elements that become stronger in the later books of the series. I love James Bond, the older movies in particular, and I love cyberpunk, so this book grabbed me from the first page. Although it’s more of a technothriller than a classic cyberpunk story I still recommend this book because I think it’s such an interesting and fun read. Definitely worth checking out if you like stories about high-tech spies saving the world!

By C.T. Phipps,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Black Technology has made murder a billion dollar industry.” The International Refugee Society has twenty-six cybernetically enhanced “Letters,” and for the right price, they’ll eliminate anyone. They’ve given up their families and their memories for ten years of service with the promise of a life of luxury awaiting them. Agent G is one of these “Letters,” but clues to his past are starting to emerge while he’s on a dangerous mission to infiltrate the Society’s most dangerous competitor. In the midst of all the violence, subterfuge, and deceit, he’ll need to keep his wits about him and trust sparingly. After…

The Heist

By Daniel Silva,

Book cover of The Heist

Bruce F.B. Hall Author Of A Shattered Calm

From the list on characters fighting against perceived wrongs.

Who am I?

At first blush, all of these books are independent of a specific genre; a saga, a fantasy, a political drama, a spy novel, a crime thriller. But they all have one comment element—the little guy against the world. David versus Goliath, as it were. When I progressed from writing about personal interests to writing novels, I knew I wanted to follow the same style in my thriller stories. I've been fortunate to have a life of adventure that allows me to create worlds of high tension that my protagionist must overcome to achieve success. I dare say my first book would fit with my recommendations, as will my second novel which is currently in development.

Bruce's book list on characters fighting against perceived wrongs

Why did Bruce love this book?

The Heist is one in a series of spy novels written by the prolific author, Daniel Silva, featuring the legendary spy Gabriel Allon. Usually, spy novels bore me to tears, but I have now read every book Silva has written. He is the best in his genre and I was captivated by his characters who are thoroughly developed as you work through the series. All of Silva’s books focus on crimes against the Jewish state and the Heist tells the tale of a stolen Carvaggio masterpiece and  Allon’s attempt to retrieve it from a historic criminal element. I couldn’t put it down.

By Daniel Silva,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Allon is the 21st century Bond' Daily Mail

Gabriel Allon, master art restorer and assassin, returns in a spellbinding new thriller from No.1 bestselling author Daniel Silva. For all fans of Robert Ludlum.

Gabriel Allon - art restorer and legendary spy - is in Venice when he receives an urgent call from the Italian police. The art dealer Justin Isherwood has stumbled upon a chilling murder scene, and is being held as a suspect.

The dead man is a fallen spy with a secret - a trafficker in stolen artwork, sold to a mysterious collector. To save his friend, Gabriel…

Book cover of Death and the Dancing Footman

Jo A. Hiestand Author Of Black Moon

From the list on closed circle mystery.

Who am I?

I write mysteries set in England and Scotland. That might not seem unusual, but I’m an American, born in and living in Missouri. I’ve loved Britain since my childhood, though I didn’t know why. It wasn’t until a decade ago that I discovered I have many centuries of Scottish, English, Welsh, and Irish in my ancestry. Perhaps that contributed to my choices of reading material (history and mystery novels) as well as the series I write that is based in Derbyshire, England⎯The McLaren Mysteries. Despite my passion for writing, I need police procedural help. I get that from police detective friends in Derbyshire.

Jo's book list on closed circle mystery

Why did Jo love this book?

It is World War Two in England. In Ngaio Marsh’s Death and the Dancing Footman a small group of people has been invited to a country house. One of them is killed. The remoteness of the house contributes to the limited group of people as possible killers, making it a classic closed-group story. It’s a good mystery. It also offers a thought-provoking contrast to the real-world event raging at the time, for in the book an English woman is saved by the German doctor. Marsh is not pro-Axis. She’s merely showing our universal dependency on each other to get through a terrifying situation. I loved this idea and thought it quite brilliant of Marsh. And something I think is rather unique in mystery novels.

By Ngaio Marsh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death and the Dancing Footman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A winter weekend ends in snowbound disaster in a novel which remains a favourite among Marsh readers.

It began as an entertainment: eight people, many of them enemies, gathered for a winter weekend by a host with a love for theatre. They would be the characters in a drama that he would devise.

It ended in snowbound disaster. Everyone had an alibi - and most a motive as well. But Chief Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn, when he finally arrived, knew it all hung on Thomas, the dancing footman...

Her Name Is Knight

By Yasmin Angoe,

Book cover of Her Name Is Knight

Tori Eldridge Author Of The Ninja Daughter

From the list on thrillers with action, emotion, and diversity.

Who am I?

As a multicultural author, born in Honolulu of Hawaiian, Chinese, Norwegian descent, I am drawn to mainstream thrillers that feature diverse characters and explore non-mainstream cultures. Since I also hold a fifth-degree black belt in To-Shin Do ninja martial arts and have traveled the United States teaching martial arts and empowerment, authentic fight scenes in fiction are a must! Nothing turns me off quicker than a shallow representation of culturally diverse characters or mundane and improbable action. I strive for authenticity, emotion, and page-turning action in my Lily Wong ninja thrillers, so it’s probably no surprise that I value these elements in the novels I read.

Tori's book list on thrillers with action, emotion, and diversity

Why did Tori love this book?

Yasmin Angoe’s debut novel features a Ghanaian female assassin heroine whose horrifying past as a survivor of sex trafficking, sexual abuse, and heartbreaking loss clashes with her assassination assignment in Miami for a secret African tribal council. The action is fast-paced with fight sequences that ring true. The alternating chapters between past and present kept me engrossed with both stories as they collided in a satisfying and unexpected finale. Deeply emotional, engrossing, and unique.

By Yasmin Angoe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Her Name Is Knight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A smash debut novel from rising star Yasmin Angoe, Her Name Is Knight features an elite assassin heroine on a mission to topple a human trafficking ring and avenge her family.

Stolen from her Ghanaian village as a child, Nena Knight has plenty of motives to kill. Now an elite assassin for a powerful business syndicate called the Tribe, she gets plenty of chances.

But while on assignment in Miami, Nena ends up saving a life, not taking one. She emerges from the experience a changed woman, finally hopeful for a life beyond rage and revenge. Tasked with killing a…

Line of Sight

By Mike Maden,

Book cover of Line of Sight

Ephraim Author Of Requiem for Betrayal

From the list on international spy thrillers with cultural differences.

Who am I?

In the early 70s I was a pop singer/recording artist in Paris with a dinner show at a restaurant/discotheque/bar called Jacky’s Far West Saloon. Located in the trendy Montparnasse area, it was popular with the US embassy personnel. As such, it was also a magnet for spooks looking to score contacts with the Americans. I witnessed a lot of intrigue there, some of it major, most of it minor, and developed a passion for international espionage. I also developed a passion for international finance and went on to author or co-author ten books and over a hundred journal articles on the subject.  

Ephraim's book list on international spy thrillers with cultural differences

Why did Ephraim love this book?

I like the Jack Ryan concept, a spy whose dad is the president. I like the campus one-for-all-all-for-one esprit de corps.

The starting point is nothing new – a diabolic plan to start a civil war. The Balkan venue is what makes it interesting. Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Turks, Chechens, Syrians, Russians, Bulgarians, Czechs, Muslim fanatics – what a mix! The reason this particular book is special is because I read it twice.

I have a Serbian colleague, which made the story more relevant to me, personally. We often discuss world events. The first time I read the book I did not know him. The second time I read it was after we had met and discussed extensively. I saw things in a different light and enjoyed it much more the second time.

By Mike Maden,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A stunning thriller in the internationally bestselling series that inspired the smash-hit Amazon Prime TV Show JACK RYAN

Jack Ryan Jr is in an assassin's sights . . .

Sent to the Balkans on an analytical mission, Jack Ryan Jr visits Sarajevo to meet Aida, the girl his mother saved in the war. He finds a selfless, attractive woman helping refugees in a restless country where a new war is brewing.

Coming to her aid, Jack is soon tangling with the Serbian mafia while dodging assassins from the mysterious Iron Syndicate. Alone and defying recall orders, he believes this is…

The Secrets We Kept

By Lara Prescott,

Book cover of The Secrets We Kept

Ciera Horton McElroy Author Of Atomic Family

From the list on historical fiction featuring strong women.

Who am I?

I may be only 27, but I’ve spent years researching the Cold War. Mostly because it’s very personal to me…my grandfather was a scientist at a top-secret hydrogen bomb plant in the 1960s. I began researching to understand his work and how it affected my family. I didn’t expect to become so consumed by the sixties. The more I learned about the nuclear arms race and the protests that were led, largely, by women, the more I felt convinced that there was a story here. I’m passionate about the often untold stories of resistance—resilience—endurance. Especially women’s stories. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do! 

Ciera's book list on historical fiction featuring strong women

Why did Ciera love this book?

As someone who writes about the Cold War, I loved this thrilling novel of espionage and secrecy. The Secrets We Kept follows women in the CIA who helped smuggle the novel Dr. Zhivago out of the Soviet Union. Not only is a story of resilient female spies (who make me want to don trench coats and sunglasses), but it’s a love story—and it sheds light on an under-represented dark spot in American history known as the “lavender scare.” Haven’t heard of that? Well, this book may be perfect for you.

By Lara Prescott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A thrilling tale of secretaries turned spies, of love and duty, and of sacrifice—inspired by the true story of the CIA plot to infiltrate the hearts and minds of Soviet Russia, not with propaganda, but with the greatest love story of the twentieth century: Doctor Zhivago • A HELLO SUNSHINE x REESE WITHERSPOON BOOK CLUB PICK

At the height of the Cold War, Irina, a young Russian-American secretary, is plucked from the CIA typing pool and given the assignment of a lifetime. Her mission: to help smuggle Doctor Zhivago into the USSR, where it is…

Secret Reports on Nazi Germany

By Franz Neumann, Herbert Marcuse, Otto Kirchheimer

Book cover of Secret Reports on Nazi Germany: The Frankfurt School Contribution to the War Effort

Zachary Shore Author Of A Sense of the Enemy: The High Stakes History of Reading Your Rival's Mind

From the list on knowing your enemy.

Who am I?

I am a historian of international conflict who focuses on understanding the enemy. For most of my career, I have studied why we so often misread others, and how those misperceptions lead to war. The current crisis in Ukraine is just one more example of how the parties involved misunderstood each other. I believe that if we could improve this one ability, we would substantially lessen the likelihood, frequency, and severity of war.

Zachary's book list on knowing your enemy

Why did Zachary love this book?

This is certainly the nerdiest of my selections. It is simply a collection of analytical assessments from the sharpest minds to study Nazi Germany during WWII. The authors of these reports, most of them Jewish intellectual academics who fled the Third Reich, joined America’s embryonic intelligence community before the CIA existed. The documents show how their deep knowledge of German social forces enabled them to counter the more superficial analysis of military and political officials about Germany’s likely course. As I wrote in my own book, if America had only had comparable experts on Afghanistan, the war there might not have ended as it did.

By Franz Neumann, Herbert Marcuse, Otto Kirchheimer

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Secret Reports on Nazi Germany as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During the Second World War, three prominent members of the Frankfurt School--Franz Neumann, Herbert Marcuse, and Otto Kirchheimer--worked as intelligence analysts for the Office of Strategic Services, the wartime forerunner of the CIA. This book brings together their most important intelligence reports on Nazi Germany, most of them published here for the first time. These reports provide a fresh perspective on Hitler's regime and the Second World War, and a fascinating window on Frankfurt School critical theory. They develop a detailed analysis of Nazism as a social and economic system and the role of anti-Semitism in Nazism, as well as…

Chilly Winds

By Brooks B. Yeager,

Book cover of Chilly Winds

Geza Tatrallyay Author Of Arctic Meltdown

From the list on climate change thrillers.

Who am I?

I have always been interested in the environment, ever since I studied Human Ecology under Professor Roger Revelle at Harvard. Several summer jobs in the Arctic with the Geological Survey of Canada gave me an early appreciation of what climate change meant for the polar region, and a more recent visit to Greenland brought the environmental devastation there more into focus. Also, having escaped from Communist Hungary in 1956, I have keenly followed Russia and its superpower ambitions, so it was natural for me to combine these two areas of interest into an environmental thriller. I am now writing a sequel, Arctic Inferno.

Geza's book list on climate change thrillers

Why did Geza love this book?

As with the previous book, this one too shows the author’s deep knowledge of the subject and his ability to weave that into a gripping thriller. Here too, you get both learning and titillation. In this book, Brooks Yeager, a former advisor to the Arctic Council and environmental negotiator, combines the high-stakes dynamics of international Arctic politics and many of the critical environmental issues facing us there and elsewhere, with other key ingredients such as well-constructed characters, lots of romance and an engaging plot to create a book you cannot put down.

By Brooks B. Yeager,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

2021 American Fiction Award Winner in Adventure: General

Taz Blackwell, former environmental negotiator and now a trouble-seeking drinker and romantic charmer, tries to find a new life and love against a backdrop of espionage, corporate plunderers, and devious diplomats.

Escaping a failed marriage, Taz moves to the island of Chincoteague on Virginia's Atlantic Coast, where he explores friendships with a cast of small-town misfits and romance with a beautiful but wary divorcee. Meanwhile, he fights a corporate land grab on the shore and a shady billion-dollar mining play in the international Arctic.

Why is a Chinese mining conglomerate stealing the…