10 best spy books


10 best spy books

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From the reprint of John Le Carré’s The Night Manager – the BBC adaptation of which has TV audiences captivated every Sunday night – to a compelling account of one of the Cambridge Spies, we’ve rounded up some of the best spy-related tomes for you to tear apart this spring.

1. Stalin’s Englishman by Andrew Lownie: £25 RRP, Hodder

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Award-winning literary agent and author Lownie tells the history of Guy Burgess – one of the Cambridge Spies, recruited in the 1930s to double-cross their country for the Soviet Union. Lownie shows us skilfully how successful and ruthless Burgess was in his betrayal.

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2. Intercept: The Secret History of Computers and Spies by Gordon Corera: £20 RRP, Orion Books 

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This non-fiction book about the intertwined history of computers and spies is written by the BBC’s security correspondent. With stories from hackers to heads of states, Corera presents a thorough history of electronic espionage. 

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3. The Night Manager by John Le Carré: £8.99 RRP, Penguin

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Published in 1993, and now subject of a BBC adaptation, this is one of Le Carré’s most intricate works, in which the manager of a Cairo hotel becomes embroiled in a plot to foil an international arms dealer.

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4. John le Carré: The Biography by Adam Sisman: £25 RRP, Bloomsbury

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This one’s the story of David Cornwell, the man behind the le Carré pseudonym. Covering his heartbreaking childhood, his life as a spy and the history of his characters, Adam Sisman masterfully paints the author’s life over 672 thrilling pages.

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5. The Travelers by Chris Pavone: £12.99 RRP, Faber & Faber

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The third novel by Pavone, author of best-selling The Expats, follows the tumultuous tale of Will Rhodes, a travel writer who is blackmailed into becoming a spy for the CIA. A fast-paced thriller set across multiple continents. 

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6. The Other Side of Silence by Philip Kerr: £18.99 RRP, Quercus

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In the eleventh book in the Bernie Gunther series, out next week, we encounter the no-fuss detective working under a pseudonym as a hotel concierge in the French Riviera in 1956. He’s soon wrapped up in a blackmail plot that features the Cambridge Spies and the writer Somerset Maugham.

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7. The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue by Frederick Forsyth: £20 RRP, Penguin 

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From the author of The Day of the Jackal comes a memoir that’s as thrilling as any of his novels. Over 60 short chapters, Forsyth describes a sensational life, from working as a journalist for Reuters in Paris to his 20-year career as a spy for MI6.

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8. Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz: £18.99 RRP, Orion

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This official James Bond novel, commissioned by Ian Fleming’s estate, is set in 1957 weeks after the end of Goldfinger. 007 returns alongside Pussy Galore in a plot centred around the early space race. It features previously unseen material by Fleming and tunes into the voice that made Bond great.

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9. The Burning Gates by Parker Bilal: £7.99 RRP, Bloomsbury

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Less a spy novel, more a dense political thriller, the fourth novel in the Makana series doesn’t disappoint. The exiled Sudanese sleuth living in Cairo is tasked with tracking down a looted artwork. 

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10. Bletchley Park: The Secret Archives by Sinclair McKay: £30, Aurum Press

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Telling the story of Bletchley Park, the site of Britain’s code-breaking operation during the Second World War, this fascinating book is an updated version of McKay’s best-selling work. It now includes 200 images and 15 removable documents. 

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