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Great list! The only book that I've read is The Quiet American. I can't say enough about it-- it's a great book. If you're really in the mood for spies, though, you may want to choose one of the others first. The Quiet American is less focused on that aspect of the story. Hope that helps.


I think you'll enjoy Greenmantle. I'm going to be reading The Quiet American soon. Have you tried Len Deighton? I remember loving Evelyn Anthony's espionage books years ago.


Mindy--I've never read anything by Graham Greene, but this seems like a good place to start. That said I think I will pick a novel that is a more traditional spy/thriller story. That does help!
Katrina--I think I did have a Len Deighton in my pile at some point, but I've never read him. I wonder if I still have the book...and I've not heard of Evelyn Anthony, but her books sound very entertaining so I'll add her to my list--thanks. I think I will like Greenmantle and am very tempted to just pick that one up next even though I've just finished a Richard Hannay story. I hope you enjoy the Graham Greene!


Great to see Helen MacInnes on the list. And it's a very nice list too! I've just finished a spy novel, namely Olen Steinhauer's The Tourist. OK, but not as complex/meaty as a Deighton.


Bibliothas--I'm not sure where I first came across her, but I had to add her since she wrote so many and this one in the 40s! I'm quite excited to read it. I have wondered about Olen Steinhauer--I've seen him mentioned but not gotten around to really looking at his books. Now a second mention of Deighton, so I will definitely have to find one of his books--thanks. I like complex stories when it comes to thrillers and mysteries.


I am surprised to see that I got more than one of the books, although, as you say, Enigma is on the border. I saw the movie and was so fascinated with the topic, I had to buy the book. And I got Restless but have a feeling it is not what I would call a classical spy novel, not gernre writing per se, but about a spy, I may be wrong. I have seen the movie The Quiet American. It has one of the most beautiful scores of all time. It should be a great novel too. I read one Alan Furst... Not my cup of tea... Curious to see what you will say. The Unlikeley Spy sounds intriguing.


Good list, for a while I wanted to read spy books because I love the BBC miniseries Cambridge Spies (it's wonderful, about the real spies Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, etc that inspired Graham Greene), but the ones I tried besides The 39 Steps were all too bleak! I did read Enigma and liked that one though and nice to see some women writers on your list.


Good list! On the periphery, I recently discovered the series by James Church about Inspector O, a crime plot set in North Korea and heavy on spying issues (for obvious reasons). I'm just starting the first book.


Didn't Georgina Harding write a spy novel, called The Spying Game, or something similar? You're right that it's mainly a male thing, although no reason now why that should be so. Oh and hasn't Stella Rimington written some well-received novels, too? As ex-head of MI5, her books ought to be quite authentic! I'm really enjoying your spy reading and looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

Amanda R.

I loved loved LOVED The Birds Fall Down. Great list!


OK, I'm going to make you laugh with spy book suggestion, Danielle. I know you don't read a lot of YA books, but Ally Carter writes a cute series set in a girls boarding school for spies-in-training. The first one is called I'D TELL YOU THAT I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU. I've enjoyed the books I've read in the series. So, if your spies get a little overwhelming and dark, think about those teen girls who can do all kinds of interesting things. LOL

On a more serious note, I always like Robert Ludlum's books years ago and read the Bourne books long before Matt Damon ever heard of them.


The Quiet American is such a good read! I've never read any of the others you mentioned, but I can vouch for the Greene. Hope you enjoy it!


I really like Helen McInnes -- especially The Hidden Target. Lots of fun. I was going to suggest William Boyd's Restless, but then saw that you have it on the list -- I thought it was quite good! But I don't read tons of spy novels so can't think of anything else to recommend right now...


Have you read any of the Mrs. Pollifax novels? She is an older lady who decides she wants to be a spy. I've read a few of them--they're mostly light and fun, not really super suspenseful. Dorothy Gilman is the author.


Not for your classic list, but Helen Fielding's Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination was fun. There was another series, by an American writer, a few years ago, that was also light and fun, but I'll have to take a look through older reading logs for that one. I, too, love the genre, but become frustrated by the absence of multidimensional female characters. Hope you find lots to enjoy!


Caroline--I think my definition of spy/espionage novel is pretty broad, but that's okay. I know there are more traditional authors out there writing in that genre, but these all appealed to me--plus I have the books on my shelves! :) I saw Enigma, too, some years ago, but I would love to read the book as I've forgotten the story more or less. I think you're right about Restless, though I have heard lots of good things about it. I'll have to watch The Quiet American after I've read the book. I have my work cut out for me1 Too bad about the Furst, but he's written so much maybe the book you chose was not one of his best. I've wanted to try him for ages, but in the end I decided to go with The Unlikely Spy and already a few pages in he has me hooked.
Carolyn--I will have to watch that series as this is my new interest for the moment. I loved the Buchan but I think you're right that a lot of the books in the genre aren't happy or even adventurous reads. I don't mind dark, I love gritty crime novels, but I do have to be in the right mood for them. Bleak stories can definitely be a downer. I plan on looking for more women who write in the genre or men who write about women protagonists--surely there will be more.
Smithereens--I had to look up this author as he is new to me, and it does sound good. I've added it to my wishlist and look forward to hearing what you say about it. It does have elements of espionage along with crime--I have a feeling there is a lot of overlap in the genres. Thanks for the suggestion.
Litlove--I have that Harding book and had to go look for it. I think it is another book that is peripherally about spies--in this case a daughter imagines her mother, who disappeared, to have been a spy, though I'm not sure what the reality of her life is. In any case it sounds very good--I should read it this year! I have read the first Stella Rimington novel and enjoyed it very much. I am actually going to write a little something about it as it is certainly worth mentioning here. I plan on picking up more of her books!
Amanda--It's on my stack...if I weren't already so busy with other books at the moment I would start that one right now, too! It's always nice to hear when someone loves a book I am planning on reading!
Kay--It does sound like fun, and I have added it to my wishlist as well. I don't read a lot of YA novels, but when I do, I generally am very impressed by what I read. I just recently bought a recently released historical fiction YA novel that I can't wait to read. I don't know why I've not added either Ludlum or Clancy to my list--I have this weird idea that they will be too technical, but I will definitely start with Ludlum. Does it matter which book to begin with? I've never even seen any of the movies, but maybe that is just as well! Better to read first and watch later. Thanks for the suggestions.
Nadia--Thanks--that seems to be a favorite of a number of people. I must read it this year and will try and squeeze it in with my other 'spy season' novels.
Melwyk--I probably have a long enough list to work with, but it is nice to get other ideas and more importantly hear about other people's experiences to help me choose. I will certainly read the MacInnes and I will see which other books my library has--I was surprised we had so many. She must have been very popular in her day.
Kathy--I meant to add Mrs Pollifax to my list and will do so now. I like the idea of a cozy spy novel. Thanks for the reminder! And another woman protagonist, too.
BuriedinPrint--I like your suggestion--I hadn't even thought of Helen Fieldings' novel, but I have added it to my wishlist. Do let me know if you come across that other author! I have a feeling that women in most of these novels are going to possibly be on the cliche side--femme fatales or something, but I might be happily surprised. This is why I've been looking for women authors writing in the genre. I have lots to choose from so I think I'll be making some good discoveries!

Dorothy W.

I didn't know the Rebecca West novel is a spy story! I had no idea, and I have it on my shelves. I'm even more curious now to read it.


I do love your lists :)

I would say start with the Greene not that I've read it but I have read another of his books, The Tenth Man, and thought it was wonderful. Very thought-provoking. I've not read anything else by him but I probably should.


Dorothy--It's probably a small stretch about the West book--I don't expect it to be a traditional spy story, but as the story is about political intrigue and there is a double agent involved it seemed to fit. I don't mind a spy story that is untraditional!
Iliana--I do love making lists and hope they don't bore people too much. I had forgotten about The Tenth Man--I saw the film years ago and have the book. I think anything Greene has written is probably pretty good and I hope I'll be reading something by him this year!

Liz F

I used to adore Helen MacInnes and I think I managed to read all that she had written and I was a big fan of Robert Ludlum's books as well (he's not technical at all as far as I remember).You really can't beat Le Carre for spy novels but the Georgina Harding and 'Restless' are both very good.
Tried Tom Clancy but couldn't get on with his books - very much one for the boys I think!


Liz--I do think I'm going to try Ludlum, but so far I've not been too tempted by Clancy--I do get the feeling they are probably not my cup of tea. I have plenty of others to start with in any case. I'm looking forward to Helen MacInnes and Le Carre, who I should really have read by now anyway. It sounds like I've made some good choices!


The Quiet American is one of my favorites and is best followed up with some supplemental reading about America's involvement in Vietnam/Vietnam War. Good luck with all of your reads.


Kathleen--I've not read hardly anything about the Vietnam War, so this should be really good. And usually in my book always ends up leading to another of the same topic! I'm looking forward to it after hearing so many people have loved it!

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