Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Best Spy Fiction of 2012

Updated 5/7/12

Here is a selection of noteworthy spy novels published in 2012:

Caplan, Thomas M. The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen.
Ty Hunter is a former military intelligence officer who becomes Hollywood’s top leading man (bet there haven’t been many of those). The president recruits him to save the world from nuclear disaster. Reviews have been positive; Library Journal compares Caplan to Ian Fleming, wow! The WaPo highlights Bill Clinton’s intro, as you would expect from them. Required reading, sez the NY Post. Kirkus splashes some cold water with their usual ho-hum verdict, and the Chicago Sun-Times thinks it awful, killed by leaden prose! That’s critics for you.

Berenson, Alex. The Shadow Patrol.
John Wells is recruited to find out what’s the problem with the CIA station in Kabul, Afghanistan. Nothing but failure since a suicide bomber blew himself up there in 2009. All the pundits seem to like this one.

Flynn, Vince. Kill Shot.
Flynn has emerged as one of the most popular thrillerists going today, receiving plaudits from presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Rush Limbaugh. Nine dead bodies are found in a Paris hotel and Flynn’s superhero Mitch Rapp is thought to have been responsible. Maybe Rapp, who has caused an international crisis, would be better off dead to avoid any further embarrassment.

Garrison, Paul. Robert Ludlum’s The Janson Command.
Look at the front cover of this book. What’s the biggest thing you see? The name Robert Ludlum. Now find the author’s name. Get the idea? Ludlum died over a decade ago, yet his name dominates the covers of new books written by others. Paul Janson, a character from Ludlum’s own The Janson Directive, is brought to life again by Garrison. African intrigue with rebels and pirates. The idea seems to be that you are getting a whiff of the legendary thriller writer Ludlum, and this novel, by association, is a cut above the others on the marketplace. A new Bourne book written by Lustbader is coming soon, as well. I have to believe people know what they are buying and these Ludlum-branded books penned by others seem to be popular.

Henshaw, Mark. Red Cell.
China plans an invasion of Taiwan. The US enters the action and China unleashes a secret weapon. Henshaw is a CIA analyst.

Johansen, Iris. What Doesn’t Kill You.
Gorgeous CIA agent Catherine Ling must find the master herbalist who created the world’s most deadly poison. A rare female author on the list.

Pavone, Chris. The Expats.
Kate Moore is a working mom, a former covert CIA agent, and now an expat in Europe, her husband having taken a job in Luxembourg. Are her neighbors what they appear? And what about hubby? Wildly positive reviews, even from Kirkus.

Steinhauer, Olen. An American Spy.
CIA agent Milo Weaver is in the middle of Chinese intrigue. Vengeance is planned against a Chinese spymaster who crippled Weaver’s Tourism Department in Steinhauer’s previous book. The third installment of a trilogy. Steinhauer is highly-regarded for a spy novelist, even the NY Times deigns to review this guy.

Read The Best Spy Fiction of 2011

Read The Best Spy Fiction of 2010


  1. Vince Flynn is indeed a must read. Mitch Rapp is a terrific character and Flynn's novels keep the suspense and tension tight throughout. I just finished American Assassin and it was excellent.

    Larry Loftis

  2. I read the entire series and looking for more. You are correct in Flynn's writing abilities. I'm having trouble find more of this type series. I am about to wind up reading the John Wells series by Alex Berenson - also very highly recommended. Similar action. There are 8 books to this series and all are books that are hard to set down once started.


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