a couple of months ago

This historical spy story ignores history

When historical novelists depart from the recorded facts of history on occasion, it’s generally understandable. For example, in her excellent novel of the Wars of the Roses, The Kingmaker’s Daughter, Philippa Gregory ignores the six-month interregnum in the reign of King Edward IV, and that matters little. But Allison Epstein wanders much too far from […]

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a few months ago

Mick Herron’s latest spy thriller will keep you guessing

Joe Country is Mick Herron’s latest spy thriller, but why should you care? That’s easy. Think of today’s leading spy novelists, and the usual suspects will come up. John le Carré leads the list, of course (although sadly he recently died). Of those who are still living and writing, Joseph Kanon and Alan Furst surely […]

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a few months ago

From Aya de León, a brilliant thriller that exposes the FBI’s illegal tactics

From the 1950s through the 1970s, the American intelligence establishment ran amok. Until brought up short in 1975 by the Church Committee hearings, the CIA roamed the planet, eliminating “Communist” leaders through assassination and economic sabotage from Iran to Guatemala to the Congo. Domestically, the FBI undermined activist movements both Black-led and white with undercover […]

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6 months ago

A superb Cold War thriller from Paul Vidich

Even if you’re a fan of espionage fiction, you may not yet be familiar with the name Paul Vidich. You should be. Vidich writes spy novels in the grand tradition of Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, and John le Carré. His historical espionage tales rank with those of his better-known contemporaries, Alan Furst and Joseph Kanon. […]

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7 months ago

About that billionaire who committed suicide in prison

Any veteran reader of mysteries has long since learned that something or someone randomly mentioned out of place early in a story will invariably turn out to be very, very important. Alfred Hitchcock called it a MacGuffin. So, your antennae are likely to wiggle frantically when you stumble upon a casual reference to that American […]

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9 months ago

A diabolically clever thriller about corporate espionage

In the early days of detective fiction, investigators such as Poe’s Auguste Dupin and Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes solved cases through sheer deductive brilliance. Later came the tough guys of the hardboiled school of detective fiction (Hammett’s Sam Spade, Chandler’s Philip Marlow, more recently Child’s Jack Reacher). They were all more inclined to use their […]

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10 months ago

British spies and the Nazi V-2 rocket

Alex Gerlis is the author of four outstanding standalone World War II spy novels (The Best of Our Spies, The Swiss Spy, Vienna Spies, and The Berlin Spies), all of which I enjoyed enormously. I can’t quite say the same about his most recent novel of espionage in that era, Prince of Spies—a tale about […]

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