As part of the “Spy Games” official blog tour, I asked Adam Brookes to name his top 5 Spy Thrillers. Some great picks in here, some of which I love myself. And if you enjoy a good Spy thriller then you may want to take a look at Spy Games – details below. Thank you so much to Adam for taking part.
Adam Brookes’ Top Five Spy Thrillers
Dark Star – Alan Furst
For atmosphere, style and characters that will break your heart, Furst, for me, is unsurpassed. Dark Star was the first Furst I picked up, and from the opening description of the tramp steamer Nicaea wallowing in the cold seas off Ostend with her cargo of flaxseed, figs and explosives destined for communist saboteurs, I was mesmerised. Furst writes prewar Europe as if he’d been there, sitting at the infamous table fourteen in the Brasserie Heininger. For Furst, espionage, even when committed with the highest of motives, remains a sordid business, mired in compromise and ambiguity. His characters flare into life with extraordinary economy, and André Szara, the beleaguered Soviet journalist manipulated by the NKVD, is a reluctant spy for the ages.
A Perfect Spy – John Le Carré
For my money, this is Le Carré’s greatest masterpiece. Magnus Pym is an officer of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service who, long ago, was recruited by Czech intelligence to be a mole. Famously, Magnus’s chaotic upbringing mirrors Le Carré’s own childhood. The book is a shattering meditation on fathers and authority, and how we can be seasoned in betrayal by those we love. It is also, I think, Le Carré’s take on the cold war betrayals of Philby, Burgess et al, and the British neuroses surrounding class and belonging that made them possible.
Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel
Wolf Hall seems to me to be all books in one – historical fiction, psychological thriller, literary masterpiece, character study. Oh, and great spy fiction, too. Mantel’s ability to imagine and recreate worlds long past, and to write dialogue inflected with the tone and preoccupations of those times is astounding to me.
The Great War and Modern Memory – Paul Fussell
Fussell, a literary critic at Rutgers University until his death in 2012, fought as a US infantryman in World War II, an experience which left him with an abiding mistrust of the way we talk and think about war. In this book, he turns his attention to World War I and the enormous ‘cultural and social shock’ it wrought on Europe. The shock is visible, he argues, in war poetry. He charts the growth of the ‘ironic voice’ in Sassoon, Rosenberg and others and looks forward to the writing of Heller and Pynchon. Wonderful, irreverent, engaging criticism.
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down – Anne Fadiman
The true story of Lia Lee, a young girl of Hmong ethnicity, whose family emigrated from Laos to California. Lia suffered from epilepsy. In Hmong culture, epilepsy may be equated with shamanic gifts, but Lia’s doctors in California saw only a neurological condition. Lia’s parents struggled to make sense of her treatment, just as they struggled to make sense of America and their own past. Fadiman’s book is a stunning exercise in pure observation, and a beautiful treatment of language, culture and understanding.
Spy Games by Adam Brookes is published 10th March by Sphere, price £7.99 in paperback
About the book:
IN A WORLD OF LIES, ONE MAN WANTS THE TRUTH
Fearing for his life, journalist Philip Mangan has gone into hiding from the Chinese agents who have identified him as a Western spy. His reputation and life are in tatters. But when he is caught in a terrorist attack in East Africa and a shadowy Chinese figure approaches him in the dead of night with information on the origins of the attack, Mangan is suddenly back in the eye of the storm.
Meanwhile, thousands of miles away on a humid Hong Kong night, a key British Intelligence source is murdered minutes after meeting spy Trish Patterson. From Washington, D.C. to the hallowed halls of Oxford University and dusty African streets, a sinister power is stirring which will use Mangan and Patterson as its pawns — if they survive.
Deeply steeped in tension and paranoia, Adam Brookes’s follow-up to his award-nominated debut is a remarkable, groundbreaking spy thriller.
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Happy Reading Folks!