“There is an imposter among us!” yell the FBI agents as they come to the realization that they’ve been infiltrated. But who is the mole? These real-life scenarios have inspired a lot of authors, from the last century to today. Plots following this intrigue make for an electrifying story packed with action and turnarounds. Going from political espionage to industrial espionage Find out more in Espionage.
We can safely agree that everyone knows James Bond. It is a classic. But here are 10 more interesting takes on espionage.
The Mask of Dimitrios
This 1939 novel by Eric Ambler, considered one of Britain’s best pre-WWII spy-thriller writers. It follows mystery writer Cornelius Leyden becomes intrigued when the murdered body of a vicious career criminal washes up in the Bosphorus.
The Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler (1939)
The Quiet American
The Quiet American by Graham Greene was published in 1955. it’s often regarded as one of the few novels that retain their power to this day. The protagonist Alden Pyle is quickly revealed to be a CIA agent. It takes place in Vietnam during the desperate French effort to remain in control.
The Quiet American by Graham Greene (1955)
The Spy Who Came In From The Cold
This 1963 novel by British author John Le Carré, was selected as one of the Novels by Time magazine It depicts Alec Leamas, a British agent, being sent to East Germany as a faux defector to sow disinformation about a powerful East German intelligence officer.
The Sky Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carré (1963)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
This is another spy novel by John Le Carré, published in 1974. The protagonist, spymaster George Smiley uncovers a Soviet mole in the British Secret Intelligence Service. It is based on the defection of Kim Philby.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldỉe, Spy by Jason Le Carré (1974)
The Eye Of The Needle
This 1978 narrative by Ken Follett, earned him the 1979 Edgard Award for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America. One enemy spy knows the secret to the Allies’ greatest deception, a brilliant aristocrat and ruthless assassin — code name: “The Needle” — who holds the key to ultimate Nazi victory.
The Eye of The Needle by Ken Follett (1978)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
It is a psychological thriller novel by Swedish author and journalist Stieg Larsson. It was published posthumously in 2005, translated into English in 2008, and became an international bestseller. Mikael Blomkvist, the protagonist, a recently disgraced journalist, attempts to solve the mystery of Harriet Vanger’s disappearance in order to restore his credibility.
The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo by Stieg Larsson (1954 – 2004)
The Trinity Six
This 2011 novel by Charles Cumming is based on the infamous Cambridge Five. Young, bright Cambridge men who spied for the Soviet Union during World War II. There have been rumors of a “sixth man”. Here the novel follows the sixth man, whose spy career is even greater than the five others.
The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming (2011)
This 2013 spy novel by Jason Matthews transcends the genre. In fact, it is infused with knowledge of authentic espionage tradecraft employed both by the CIA and by Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service. It illustrates the interaction between Russian double agent Dominika Egorova and CIA agent Nate Nash.
Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews (2013)
An Officer And A Spy
Published in 2020 by Robert Harris, It is a reenaction of the Dreyfus Affair. The notorious case is retold in a suspenseful way while still retaining the majority of historical facts.
An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris (2020)
This 2020 story from Patrick Hoffman, is a modern take on the espionage genre. Here the character of the detective is updated to master technology. The protagonist Valencia Walker, a former CIA agent uses high tech to retrieve a phone containing sensitive files.
Clean Hands by Patrick Hoffman (2020)
Spies in novels used to be more inclined to use their fists and sometimes a pistol to force a case to its solution. But we have seen with the last novel of the list that this has changed. In today’s era of the Information Revolution, we’re beginning to see the character updated to more of a geek. Espionage has evolved.
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