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Old 10-27-2009, 09:57 AM   #1
dougbiss
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Espionage authors you (and I) should read

I'm looking for a new list of authors to get acquainted with, so I'm starting three threads for each of the genres that interest me: fantasy, sci-fi and espionage. This, as is so obvious from the title, is the espionage thread.

Starting with the idea that certain authors will be on almost everyone's list for this genre, I'm asking that we exclude them to get to the ones that may benefit readers, such as myself, who are trying to dig a little deeper.

In espionage, I think this list would comprise of (in no particular order):

Ian Fleming
Tom Clancy
Robert Ludlum
Clive Cussler (who I firmly believe belongs in this genre, don't you?)

I've also heard the name Vince Flynn thrown around, but I've never read him so I'm unsure if he's the real deal or just a flavor of the month.

I'm sure there are others that you feel should be on that list... so who are they and why do they belong?

Thanks in advance for all comments!
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Old 10-27-2009, 11:38 AM   #2
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I agree with your choices. I'd add:

John Le Carre
Eric Ambler "A Coffin for Demetrios" - I haven't read anything else by him but that's one heck of a book.
Graham Greene

I'd add those. I haven't read them in a long time, but I remember Helen MacInnes being an excellent espionage author too.
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Old 10-27-2009, 11:54 AM   #3
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Fredrick Forsyth
Ken Follett
Len Deighton
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Old 10-27-2009, 12:03 PM   #4
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The absolute best espionage writer that nobody ever reads is Adam Hall (Elleston Trevor). His Quiller series (19 books) is probably the best espionage fiction I've ever read. The writing style can take a bit to get used to, but absolutely nobody is as good at creating suspense with the written word as Trevor.

Vince Flynn is the real deal, although from time-to-time, he can get a bit preachy and that gets tiresome.

To my mind, the best espionage/thriller writer around today is Barry Eisler. His John Rain series (6 books) is absolutely terrific.

Some of David Morrell's books are certainly espionage and, except for Adam Hall, nobody is as good at putting suspense on a written page as Morrell. His trilogy (The Brotherhood of the Rose, The Fraternity of the Stone, and The League of Night and Fog) is not to be missed. First Blood (the novel upon which the first Rambo movie is based) is also an excellent read (and the characters are much more "real" and less cardboard and the story itself is much more a case of shades of grey). You can rarely go wrong with Morrell.

For a bit of "old school" espionage, do yourself a favor and track down some of Charles McCarry's early novels.

Though a bit dated now, Trevanian had several excellent espionage stories (The Eiger Sanction, The Loo Sanction, and Shibumi).

Among new authors, I'd recommend Brett Battles and David Stone.
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Old 10-27-2009, 12:08 PM   #5
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For me Anthony Price is the best spy story writer. Second is probably Le Carré and third is Len Deighton.
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Old 10-27-2009, 12:08 PM   #6
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Though a bit dated now, Trevanian had several excellent espionage stories (The Eiger Sanction, The Loo Sanction, and Shibumi).
Oh, I forgot Trevanian. Now there's a great underestimated writer. I've read all of those and Shibumi and The Eiger Sanction really stand out. (Don't blame Trevanian for the Eiger Sanction movie, heh)
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Old 10-27-2009, 01:17 PM   #7
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For years, I listed Shibumi among my top 10 books. I re-read it a few years ago; unfortunately, while it is still good, it seems a bit too tied to a particular time and didn't age terribly well.
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Old 10-27-2009, 01:36 PM   #8
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Along with Vince Flynn, I'd add Brad Thor
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Old 10-27-2009, 02:07 PM   #9
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I usually refer to Thor's character Scot Harvath as Mitch Rapp-lite (Mitch Rapp being Vince Flynn's character).
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Old 10-27-2009, 02:17 PM   #10
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I agree with your choices. I'd add:

John Le Carre
His early work is very good. By "early work" I mean the novels he wrote before he was JOHN LeCARRE. At some pint he stopped writing spy novels and started writing literature (as in, why use 5 words instead of 500). After that, his novels get progressively more and more unreadable.
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Old 10-27-2009, 03:03 PM   #11
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Thanks, everyone... lots of good info there.

I'm surprised that of the three threads, this is the one with the most passionate responses. I'm very thankful for the lists of authors, but when people elaborate on the details like they have in this thread it really makes it easier to pick what to read next!

Thanks again.
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Old 10-27-2009, 03:15 PM   #12
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I find myself agreeing with Nate about the readability of LeCarre's novels (especially those of the last two decades or so). For me, if you want to see literature in an espionage novel that still retains suspence and violence, try the Quiller novels.
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Old 10-27-2009, 03:39 PM   #13
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His early work is very good. By "early work" I mean the novels he wrote before he was JOHN LeCARRE.
What do you mean by that? I thought all novels was published under the same name.
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Old 10-27-2009, 04:51 PM   #14
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I agree with your choices. I'd add:

Eric Ambler "A Coffin for Demetrios" - I haven't read anything else by him but that's one heck of a book.
You are very lucky!!! This means that you still haven't read

THE NIGHT COMERS
THE INTERCOM CONSPIRACY
THE LEVANTER

These three, together with "The mask of Dimitrios" (in USA published as "A Coffin for Dimitrios"), are, in my opinion, the best he has written.
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Old 10-27-2009, 04:55 PM   #15
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His early work is very good. By "early work" I mean the novels he wrote before he was JOHN LeCARRE. At some pint he stopped writing spy novels and started writing literature (as in, why use 5 words instead of 500). After that, his novels get progressively more and more unreadable.
I don't agree. "Absolute Friends" (2004) is, in my opinion, his best. And BTW, I beleive he was *always* Le Carré.
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