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Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Discussion: The Brave New World of Spy Fiction

I have been working on the August display of spy fiction.  Compiling the list has been a great experience.  I mostly used NoveList to identity adult fiction "spy stories," and then cross-checked the suggestions against our catalog.  Throughout the process, I was pleasantly surprised not only by how many of the spy series we owned, but also by how popular they are with our readers.

Those of us 30 and older, tend to associate spy fiction with the cold war.  While there are tons of books still coming out set during the golden spy era of  the cold war, there is also a new a vibrant selection of spy fiction for the 21st century.

In fact, it is these series of "not your father's spy fiction" that I will be focusing on for my annotated list to go with the display.  It will go live on 8/3.

But before that, I feel inspired to share some of the newer spy series for today's Monday Discussion.

The man who was the first to revive the dying spy genre was Daniel Silva with his art restorer/ex-Mossad agent Garbriel Allon.  With the reluctant and traumatized ex-assassin hunting another assassin storyline, of the first book in the series, The Kill Artist, readers were drawn in to a new kind of spy series; one that Silva has keep strong, book after, best selling book.  Allon is a conflicted killer who is interesting and brilliant.  Silva has brought what used to be the untouchable, superhuman spy back down to a fragile, fallible, human level.  These are great books for any reader, spy fiction fan or not.

Last year I also read Once a Spy by Keith Thomson.  Here, an aging CIA agent is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's, and some other agents are out to assassinate him before he inadvertently spills government secrets.  Click here for my full report.  A second book in the series was just released this year.

I am also intrigued by Barry' Eisler's Rain series which follows a half Japanese, half American spy,
Olen Steinhauer's Milo Weaver trilogy which begins with The Tourist as Weaver, a Black-Ops CIA agent post-pones his suicide for one more case, and Brett Battles' Jonathan Quinn series which features a freelance, professional "cleaner" who specializes in disposing of bodies and tying up loose ends.

Of course, even with all of these new spies the old classics like Ludlum, Le Carre, and the James Bond books both old and new are still a great read for a wide audience.
So for today's Monday Discussion, tell me about a spy book you enjoy.  Don't forget you can include any memoirs or biographies of real life spies if you want.

Click here for the Monday Discussion archive.


John BPL RA said...

The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth is my favorite of all time. The title character concealed his identity so well that even in death he remains unknown. Not only is it intelligently written and mentally complex (unlike many spy novels) but it offers heavy philosophical commentary on the concepts of identity and human existence.

Mike said...


The Spy Who Came in From the
Cold by John Le Carre is my
favorite. To me, it ushered
in a new era in spy fiction.
Unlike the stylish, glamorous
James Bond series, Le Carre
depicted a world of espionage
that was gritty, lonely, ugly
and realistic in its simple,
direct approach to what the
world of spies really is. The
film of the book is also a