Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Best Spy Fiction of 2011

Updated: 12/15/11

Do you agree with a book reviewer for the UK Spectator by the name of Lewis Jones that American spy novelists are "unreadable"?

The English fascination with spies is gloriously reflected in our literature, from Kim to A Question of Attribution, and while their Egyptian and Israeli counterparts remain untranslated, and the Americans unreadable, English spy novelists rule.

Here is a selection of noteworthy spy novels published in 2011:

  • Berquist, Drew. The Maverick Experiment. Author Berquist is a former spy. His hero Derek Stevens stalks the Taliban in Afghanistan.
  • Boyd, Noah. Agent X. Former FBI agent Boyd introduced his hero Steve Vail in last year’s crime thriller The Bricklayer. Now, Vail must find Russian moles feeding intelligence to Moscow. Reviews haven’t been kind, but the Amazonians generally like it.
  • Clancy, Tom with Peter Telep. Against All Enemies. Clancy/Telep introduce a new character, ex-Navy SEAL Max Moore. The Taliban and Mexican drug lords join forces.
  • Coonts, Stephen. Deep Black: Death Wave. Hero Charlie Dean heads up a National Security Agency team to foil a sinister terrorist plot hatched from the Canary Islands. This is the 3rd installment of the Deep Black series.
  • Cumming, Charles. The Trinity Six. The Cambridge 5 were Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt, John Cairncross, Guy Burgess, and Donald Maclean. But was there a sixth?
  • Deaver, Jeffery. Carte Blanche. US writer Deaver pens the latest James Bond spy thriller. Bond must stop a terrorist attack that could kill thousands.
  • Dunn, Matthew. Spycatcher. Superspy Will Cochrane chases a terrorist mastermind.
  • Finder, Joseph. Buried Secrets. Nick Heller must discover who kidnapped the daughter of a hedge fund titan. Early reviews are very positive.
  • Ignatius, David. Bloodmoney. Washington Post reporter Ignatius pens a story that asks who is killing the members of a CIA intelligence unit in Pakistan? The task of finding out what's going on falls on the heroine of this novel with the somewhat embarrassing name Sophie Marx.
  • Jacobson, Douglas W. The Katyn Order. Spy thriller about the 1940 Katyn forest massacre of 20,000 Polish officers by the Soviet NKVD.
  • Patterson, Richard North. The Devil's Light. Best-selling author Patterson crafts a timely story about CIA agent Brooke Chandler, who must stop an Al Qaeda nuclear plot.
  • Rimington, Stella. Rip Tide. MI5 officer Liz Carlyle investigates pirates off the Somalian coast. Author Rimington was Director General of MI5.
  • Silva, Daniel. Portrait of a Spy. Silva's superspy Gabriel Allon is faced with a series of bombings in Europe.
  • Thomson, Keith. Twice a Spy. Billed as a combination of humor and suspense. Terrorists and a nuclear bomb disguised as a washing machine. Old former CIA with Alzheimer's saves the day?
  • Thor, Brad. Full Black. Scot Harvath must save the United States from terrorists.

Also Noted:
  • Chadbourn, Mark. The Scar-Crow Men. Historical fantasy set in 16th Century England. Who is killing Queen Elizabeth I’s spies?
  • Willig, Lauren. The Orchid Affair. Historical romance set in Napoleonic France.

Read “The Best Spy Fiction of 2010

Read "The Best Spy Nonfiction of 2011"


  1. Stephen,

    I'm a huge fan of this list. I literally systematically went thru it all and had a blast.

    Can you start a 2012 list too please?

  2. I got a late start this year. Hopefully I'll have 2012 up soon.

  3. Very useful list. I have a thing for authors that have worked in the field and am glad to find new ones thanks to you. I thoroughly disagree with your judgment on John Le Carre. I am a trader and for example It has always been clear that most traders portrayed in books or the ones usually interviewed are caricatures of the real thing, which is normal individuals trying to survive the gigantic organisations that use them, which means most of them have doubts. Whether in my profession or in the intelligence world I would not think much of those who have no doubt. They are the ones that blow holes in bank's balance sheets, and those who end up shaming their countries by commiting actions they deem nevessary to fulfill operational goals with no thoughts given to the improbable risk their actions cld cause indirect harm to their own camp. It is not unpatriotic to keep your brain and your ethics.

  4. I was looking for a listing like this but have to say the initial entry is pure crap. The Maverick Experiment is completely unreadable. I doubt this piece of garbage was even professionally edited. If it was, they should be fired. It has zero character development and is very one dimensional. Only conflict is how many times the author tries to state his own beliefs until you just give up and toss the book in the circular file or hit the delete key. I wouldn't even consider donating it or passing the book along to others it's that bad. I'd ask for a refund but since it was free through Amazon Kindle, it is doubtful they'd give me my time back. It's fantasized realism. Very seldom do I quit a book before finishing, this was one of those rare occurrences. This is the worst book I read, or attempted to read, last year bar none. Maybe even in the last 5 years it's that bad.

  5. I'm always wary of people who make comments under the pseudonym Anonymous. If you are afraid to put your own name on your comment, don't bother to comment.
    Bill Robinson


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