best spy novels

Best Spy Novels – 2019

Nothing is more enjoyable than picking up a good book that is filled with action and emotion. A great spy novel will have all of these things as well as a bit of surprise to keep the readers interested in the story. We all love movies like the James Bond franchise, and Jason Bourne flicks, but there is something that will really keep you reading a spy novel that is in the same genre as those beloved movies. So, what makes a good spy novel? In this guide, we are going to look at a few options that will really pique your interest, but first, let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of a good spy novel.


An Element of Surprise

Any good spy story is going to have an element of surprise that is going to keep you at the edge of your seat. It may be the location of the tale, the events that are taking place, or the twist of how the espionage happens, but there will be some type of surprise that you will not be expecting at some point in the story. Most of these types of novels will focus on your fears and insecurities to help create a unique story in a specific time period. Some of the great spy novels take place during a period of cold war, World War II, or another historical event.

Many of these spy stories will reveal aspects of being human that people fail to see, so there will be fights, betrayals, and more that can mirror things in your own life. A good spy story can even make you feel like reading it is opening up a gateway to how you would feel during the time, and it will often strike a chord within you that tugs at your emotions. Along with the element of surprise, you are also going to want to see action in the plot to keep you involved. Can you imagine a classic spy movie without action? Of course not, so it is also an aspect that is required in this type go book.


Intriguing Characters

When you read a good spy novel, one of the things that keep you involved in the story are the characters and how their actions affect you emotionally. The key to these types of stories is to get invested with the main character’s life, and when you begin to care for the characters as if they were your friends, you will care what happens to them in their lives. The more intrigue, mystery, and suspense that is presented during the storyline, the more involved you will be as a reader.

In general, a good spy story is going to need an antagonist and a protagonist, but you cannot simply have them be a hero and a villain. Both characters need to have a strong story that is compelling. Their traits will complement each other, and there will need to be a conflict that involves them both. Many of the most popular spy stories will have a McGuffin that is meant to misdirect the reader so that they do not expect the actual outcome of the story to turn out like it will. In general, the characters will need to take part in several action scenes as the plot is laid out.


Best Spy Novel Reviews


1) The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

This is a story that is set in two different time periods to tell the story of two different individuals. Both women play their part, and then 30 years later, they meet and go on a mission to find the truth of what happened. During 1915, Eve wants to join the fight against the Germans in the Great War. She is recruited as a spy and sent to an enemy-occupied part of France. There she trains with Lili, who is known as the queen of Spies, as she manages a network of secret agents right in enemy territory.

The second part of the story takes place in 1947, which is after the end of World War II. In this section of the story, a girl named Charlie, who is a college girl that is pregnant and on the verge of being thrown out of her home, is the main character. Her cousin Rose disappeared from a part of France that was occupied by the Nazis during the war, and Charlie is still hoping to find evidence that she is alive. When she is sent to Europe to take care of the pregnancy, she leaves and heads to London to find out more about her beloved cousin.


2) Darkling Spy by Edward Wilson

The Darkling Spy is a story that takes place in London during 1956. If you like a book that has plenty of deception and mind games, this is a great option that will keep you on the edge of your chair until the last few pages. In the book, British spies are haunted by the memory of a friend who betrayed them all. Henry Bone, who is a Mandarin spymaster, learns that “butterfly” is a Cold War Intelligence that can identify the traitor and the British spies. To get help with “butterfly,’ he turns to William Catesby.

Catesby is a British spy that has quite a reputation, and recently he has been setting traps to try and capture those behind “butterfly.” He becomes the lure that is designed to uncover them all, and the mission leads him from Berlin to Budapest during the height of the uprising in 1956. Then, he travels to East Germany as a defect to enjoy a meal with an espionage legend named Mischa Wolf. In this world, trust is few and far between, and making the wrong choice could be deadly.


3) The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson

Ever since 9/11, the world of spy stories has changed, and terrorism and espionage have become a big part of the plot. In this story, 9/11 is a fairly recent event that has touched the lives of the characters. John Wells, who is an American spy, is returning home after being undercover for more than a decade. He is the only westerner to infiltrate al Qaeda, and he is finding that he is being called on to help assist the masterminds behind all new attacks on American soil. The world seems to mistrust him, and he is forced to walk the thin line that separated treason and loyalty.

The Faithful Spy is a story that is based on the work of a field journalist, so it may feel more like a piece of nonfiction, but the issues that it touches are emotionally touching, which will keep you hooked. Facing the CIA and the FBI becomes a struggle as they attempt to locate and disband terror cells in the county. This is a truly suspenseful story that is heartbreaking and thrilling at the same time. It is not classic espionage but has a modern twist that you will still love.


4) Agent in Place by Mark Greaney

This is the seventh book in the Gray Man series. In the story, an Islamic state group is planning on executing Courtland Gentry and leaving his body in a bloody lake. The story then rewinds about a week to show you how he ended up in this situation. Gentry, who is an assassin, meets with the head of the Free Syria Exile Union. All of the brave members are dead, and Gentry agrees to take on a fool’s errand to kill the Syrian President. He goes to the country to rescue Bianca Medina, who is actually the lover of the president of Syria as well as the mother of his only son.

The wife of the President knows about the mistress and wants her killed, which means the boy is in danger as well. Gentry agrees to go back for the boy. He claims to only kill for money, but his moral code will keep him in the midst of it all. As he tried to bring the son out of the county alive, there is plenty of bloodshed, and one shot could end this brutal dictatorship. Each mission is sold as the most deadly, but this one is one that will keep you on the edge of your seat.


5) Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

If you like to read the books that have helped to create movies that you have enjoyed, then this is a great option that stars Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton. The story takes place in present-day Russia, and the President is Vladimir Putin. Sparrow, who is a Russian intelligence officer named Dominika Egorova, is a trained seductress who was assigned to work against Nathaniel Nash, an important Russian mole in the CIA. Written with this intelligence of an insider, there is information that only a CIA agent would be aware of in the book.

As the story progresses, the two characters soon collide, and their forbidden passion threatens their own lives as well as those around them. There are tons of secret alliances that are both made and broken as well as a dangerous operation that could threaten one or both of their lives. This is a story that is delightful and terrifying to read as the plot is laid out, and the unforgettable cast carries out Putin’s plans. Based on the real-life stories of the author, the espionage, the cyber warfare, and the counterintelligence found in the novel are perfectly composed to entertain you.


6) House of Spies by Daniel Silva

This is another great spy novel that takes place after the events of 9/11. In this story, the main character, who is named Gabriel Allon, is ready for revenge. He is determined to hunt down a terrorist from ISIS named Saladin, and there is plenty of suspense in the book to have you on the edge of your seat. The story begins about four months after the attack on the Twin Towers and the rest of America on 9/11. There is a trail of carnage left not only in the US but also in London’s West End. The attack took a lot of planning to pull off, but there was a loose thread.

Gabriel Allon and his team found the thread, and it leads them to the South of France. Here, Olivia Watson and Jean Luc Martel live. She is a fashion model in Brittan, and he is involved in drugs, that could very well bring down the Westerns World. As they begin working together with Gabriel, they become key components on the war on terrorism across the globe. This story is designed to be seductive so that you have feelings for the characters involved. The suspense is to die for, and you can be a part of the tracking down of this terrorist.


7) Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene

Like many of the spy stories out there on the market, this one by Graham Greene is a great option that came to life mainly because of his experience as a spy in his real life. James Wormold is a vacuum cleaner sales person who is a bit low on cash. When all seems lost, he is asked by British intelligence agents to work as an undercover agent. If you are into espionage, then you will love following him as he attempts to decode incomprehensible codes and more to create the perfect picture for the folks in Havana.

The MI6 is working with him as well, and they dispatch a secretary to oversee the actions that he is taking. Wormold fears that he is in danger and that everything that he has done to create a cover is about to become undone. Instead of losing his endeavors, he becomes the target of an assassin, and he must figure out how to get out of the mayhem of Cuba without endangering his life further. This is a great spy novel, but there are a lot of dark comedy moments intertwined with the action to make it great.


8)The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

This is another excellent spy novel that you will love, especially if espionage is something that you enjoy. It is a novel that explores two different worlds and the life that each lived during the year 1975. It explores the extreme politics of the countries, and there is even a love story in the midst of the story that will intrigue you and help you get closes to the characters that you are reading about.

Saigon is in chaos, so the general of the South Vietnamese army is drawing up a list of all of the people who want to receive passage on a flight out of the county. They are planning on traveling to Los Angeles to start a new life that is free, but their captain is secretly observing their actions and reporting everything that they do to the higher-ups within the Viet Cong. This novel is basically the story of the captain. He was raised by a poor Vietnamese mother and a French father who was absent the majority of the time. He was able to go to college to get schooling in America, but afterward, he returned to Vietnam to fight as a communist. Where will his story take us?


9) The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carre

The final spy novel that we are going to be looking at in this guide is one that is set in the early 1960s, which is more than half of a century ago and makes this story take place in a completely different world than we are used to. It paints a picture about human nature and how fragile we can be. This is the author’s third book, but it is actually the first to win awards and international recognition. The suspense that is created in the story is spectacular, and the international espionage takes it to another emotional level.

In this story, the main character is ready to end his career and move on with his life, but he decides to take on one last assignment. All of the agent s that are under his command are killed, and he is summoned back to London, where he is told that he will be bringing down the head of the East German Intelligence. It invokes the feelings that were present when the Berlin wall first went up, and the Cold War began. As the main character plays his double agent role, you will be sitting on the edge of your seat, waiting to see what happens next in the story.

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