An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris (2013)

At some point I seem to have ceased to be an army officer and become a detective. I pound pavements. I interview witnesses. I collect evidence. (p.185) The Dreyfus Affair In December 1894 the French Jewish army officer, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, was tried and found guilty of passing French military secrets to the Germans and […]

A Brief History of The Spy by Paul Simpson (2013)

An entertaining and eye-opening survey of the role of the spy since 1945. The sub-title is Modern Spying from the Cold War to the War on Terror, but in fact the book reads as if it is in two distinct parts: 1. The Cold War. 2. The War on Terror, each of which has completely […]

The Spy Who Loved Me by Ian Fleming (1962)

‘Bond. James Bond.’ ‘That’s a pretty chump name. From England, huh?’ (p.124) A colossal experiment, a James Bond adventure told from the point of view of its ‘Bond girl’, Vivienne ‘Viv’ Michel. Fleming had experimented with structure and time-frame in previous novels, but this is an extraordinary departure from the formula. It was panned by […]

Spy Sinker by Len Deighton (1990)

This the third and final novel in the second trilogy of books about 40-something British intelligence officer Bernard Samson. In the first trilogy (Berlin Game, Mexico Set, London Match) his gorgeous, clever wife Fiona was exposed as a high-level ‘mole’ in the Department and forced to flee in a hurry to East Berlin. In the […]

Spy Line by Len Deighton (1990)

This is the second novel in the second trilogy about 40-something British intelligence agent, Bernard Samson. At the end of its predecessor he was on the run in Berlin, an arrest warrant issued by his own side for treason, presumably because he had been investigating (and publicising) a top secret slush fund which his wife […]

Spy Hook by Len Deighton (1988)

No matter where I went or what I did, Berlin would always be home for me. My father had been Resident long ago… and Berlin held all my happy childhood recollections. (p.43) The previous trilogy (Berlin Game, Mexico Set, London Match) featuring just-turning-forty British spy Bernard Samson all took place in the space of a […]

The Great Spy Race by Adam Diment (1968)

It felt good to be alive – take a memo McAlpine – make sure you stay that way. (p.78) The main attraction of being a layabout is watching the rest of the world rushed off its aching feet. (p.83) This is Diment’s second novel featuring Philip McAlpine – a kind of lazy, dirty, dope-smoking twenty-something […]

The Dolly Dolly Spy by Adam Diment (1967)

‘I think the sexy spy’s going out of vogue, don’t you, Bill, darling?’ Brentridge laughed a bit. ‘Yes, worse luck. It’s all computers these days.’ (p.167) Adam Diment The mysterious Adam Diment was 23-years-old when this, his first novel, was published. It shot him to fame, he appeared in all the right Sunday supplements, and […]

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Spy by Len Deighton (1976)

I should have obeyed orders. I didn’t, and what happened subsequently was all my fault. I don’t mean that I could have influenced events, it was far too late for that, but I could have protected myself from the horror of it. (p.183) All Deighton’s narrators wear glasses, presumably a jokey reference to the author’s […]

Yesterday’s Spy by Len Deighton (1975)

I looked at him for a long time. ‘The days of the entrepreneur are over, Steve,’ I told him. ‘Now it’s the organisation man that gets the Christmas bonus and the mileage allowance. People like you are just called “heroes”, and don’t mistake it for a compliment. It just means has-beens, who’d rather have a […]