10 best spy books
Enjoying The Night Manager on BBC? Read the original and other new and reissued tales of sleuthing and intrigue
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
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.
2. Intercept: The Secret History of Computers and Spies by Gordon Corera: £20 RRP, Orion Books
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.
3. The Night Manager by John Le Carré: £8.99 RRP, Penguin
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.
4. John le Carré: The Biography by Adam Sisman: £25 RRP, Bloomsbury
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.
5. The Travelers by Chris Pavone: £12.99 RRP, Faber & Faber
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.
6. The Other Side of Silence by Philip Kerr: £18.99 RRP, Quercus
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.
7. The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue by Frederick Forsyth: £20 RRP, Penguin
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.
8. Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz: £18.99 RRP, Orion
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.
9. The Burning Gates by Parker Bilal: £7.99 RRP, Bloomsbury
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.
10. Bletchley Park: The Secret Archives by Sinclair McKay: £30, Aurum Press
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.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.