Saturday, January 14, 2012

Your Favorite Spy Novel


We just saw TINKER, TAILOR. SOLDIER, SPY, which we loved. It was so well done-from the smallest detail on up. The grimy, cheesy sixties- seventies never looked worse. But they make a swell setting for a spy drama.

What is your favorite spy novel? Or a few of them.

31 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - The Spy Who Came in From the Cold is, in my mind, hard to beat...

Charles Gramlich said...

I haven't actually read a lot of spy novels. If James Bond counts, I did enjoy Thunderball quite a bit. My favorite Bond book. I read some Le Carre back in the day, but don't remember much about them now.

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of Brian Freemantle's Charlie Muffin series. I also like Len Deighton's Bernard Samson books.

Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Phil's read a lot of Alan Furst.

Anonymous said...

I have most of his books sitting on the shelf, unread.

Jeff M.

Anonymous said...

Anthony Price's Dr. David Audley series is good. I like books that have tie-ins to the past along with the modern story.

Jeff M.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Jack Higgins, John Le Carre, Tom Clancy, Alistair MacLean, Desmond Bagley, Frederick Forsyth, Ken Follett, John Gardner, and Robert Ludlum. But my favourite spy novelist is the elderly MI6 spy master Kenneth Aubrey created by Craig Thomas.

MP said...

I, too, would have to go with "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold", which I read when it was new. Can anyone think of any genre that was so completely transformed by one novel as the spy novel was by this one?

le0pard13 said...

I have to admit that I've enjoyed Le Carre far more translated to film than in books. There, I said it. Still, my list would include:
• Ken Follett's Eye of the Needle
• Frederick Forsyth's Day of the Jackal*
• Robert Littell's The Amateur
• James Grady's Mad Dogs
• Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Identity*
• Trevanian's Shibumi*

* While these center on assassins and not spies, I love the background regarding the intelligence community (real or not) the author wove in the work.

pattinase (abbott) said...

That is a great question. It made realism and good writing an essential quality, which is why so many fail for me, I think. James Bond could more easily be classified as fantasy, for instance.

Steve Oerkfitz said...

Some Eric Ambler-esp A Coffin For Dimitrios and Journey Into Fear.
Robert Littell-Legends, The Defection of A.J. Letwiller.
I have read all of Alan Fursts which are excellent.
Olen Steinhauer-The Tourist

Ed Gorman said...

My favorite is Graham Greene's The HUman Factor. I also like Eric Ambler and Trevanian and numerous Brits..

Al Tucher said...

I also enjoyed the new Tinker, Tailor, which surprised me. I remember the miniseries with Alec Guinness very clearly, but the new version holds its own despite the story being compressed from seven hours to two.

And I remember Freemantle's Charlie Muffin books fondly.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Greene was brilliant, wasn't he. He may have more to say that Le Carre.

I barely remember it, Al. I am hoping my library has it but I bet it's VCR and not DVD.

Yes, my husband read and loved THE TOURIST and was so disappointed that movie (Jolie) was another story completely.

Rob Kitchin said...

Read a lot of spy stuff when I was a teenager - John Le Carre, Len Deighton, Ted Allbeury and Martin Cruz Smith got taken out of the library on a fairly regular basis. One book I really liked though was:

Red Sqaure by Edward Topol and Fridreikh Neznansky (Corgi, 1983)

It might be interesting to re-read it now to see if what my 14/15 year old self thought was good, still does.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Looking at it on Amazon, I wonder if he also wrote under Allan Topol?

Richard R. said...

I've read some Aarons, the LeCarre, some Deighton, Flamming (no, I don't think the Bond books could be classified as Fantasy, Patti), Trevanian and a few others. My favorite? That's easy: Michael Gilbert’s Mr. Calder & Mr. Behrens and Game Without Rules, two short story collctions of 12 stories each that are wonderful. If it's a novel, them probably Smiley's People or any of the Quest for Karla books by LeCarre.

Anonymous said...

A COFFIN FOR DIMITRIOS was another one I should have mentioned.

Of course I'm on the record as a fan of DOnald Hamilton's Matt Helm series.

Lastly, although you might not expect it E. Howard Hunt's various spy series are worth reading, at least based on the ones I've read to date.

Jeff M.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rick. I've been going back through my database but somehow missed talder & Behrens stories. Great stuff indeed.

Jeff M.

Cap'n Bob said...

Double agents and triple-crosses are too much for my simple mind. I don't read them. I did read James Bond when I was a teenager, but that's as far as it went.

michael said...

Adam Hall hasn't been mentioned yet, I think.

But my favorite is Ross Thomas "Cold War Swap."

pattinase (abbott) said...

Cap'n Bob-Your blog is one long swash of color to me. No words. Is it just me?

pattinase (abbott) said...

Have not read that Ross Thomas. Nor any Adam Hall.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Just found a Charles McCarry.

Richard R. said...

Not just you, Patti. Bob's blog has only the background, no posts or words other than the header. He was probably fooling around and...

Anonymous said...

I second Michael's mention of Adam Hall. I have difficulty getting into a lot of spy fiction but gobbled up all the books in Hall's Quiller series as quickly as I could track them down.

Cap'n Bob said...

I had a problem a few days ago but I thought it has been fixed. I just posted something. Please look and let me know. Thanks.

David Cranmer said...

I'm glad to hear the new TINKER, TAILOR. SOLDIER, SPY is a winner. I enjoyed the BBC original featuring Alec Guinness. I would also throw in a mention for Burton's THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD. The final scene is haunting.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Mesmerizing and not as difficult to follow as this one.

Graham Powell said...

I'll second both Len Deighton and Adam Hall. I have not seen the new TINKER, TAILOR movie, but I have seen the original miniseries, and I am not surprised they could do it all in two hours. The pace was somewhat... leisurely.

Yvette said...

A COFFIN FOR DIMITRIOS and JOURNEY INTO FEAR by Eric Ambler. They immediately spring to mind.

I'm not a big spy novel reader though I have read a few Alan Furst books and enjoyed them.

Also, now that I think on it, ICON by Frederick Forsyth is terrific.