Fiction Famous: Best Espionage and Spy Novels

May 19, 2017 James Clayton Welch

Do you love reading about espionage? Then you’re going to love this list.

Fiction Famous-Best Espionage and Spy Novels

Spies galore! The espionage genre is one of the most popular genres out there, with popular books being turned into wildly successful movies. It is a genre that excites people with thrilling suspense and action. Here is a list of some of the best books about spies.


Kim by Rudyard Kipling (1901)

Kim is a white sahib born in India and joins the great game of imperialism. He becomes a human chameleon in a story of travel, trade, and adventure. A classic spy book, Kim comes highly recommended.


The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad (1907)

In a story that starts in a London shop, Mr. Verloc, the protagonist, becomes involved in an anarchist plot to blow up the Greenwich Observatory. A story of intrigue involving politicians, the police, diplomats, and high society, this book shows the dark side of society and reveals an ingenious plot in the end.


The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum (1980)

Who is Jason Bourne? That is the question the protagonist asks himself when he wakes up with no memory at all and the CIA chasing him. Action packed with a great plot twist, the series is one of the best espionage books out there.


Assignment in Brittany by Helen MacInnes (1942)

Written by a well-traveled German literature translator, MacInnes married an MI6 operative and wrote books about espionage based on her travels and insider knowledge. In her book, the protagonist is a French captain who poses as a Nazi leader to search for a U-boat base off the coast of France. The novel is thrilling and extremely enjoyable.


From Russia, with Love by Ian Fleming (1957)

It’s not a good list of spies if James Bond doesn’t make an appearance. In this book, however, he’s being targeted for elimination by Russia’s SMERSH. Using the steamy, irresistible bait in the name of Tatiana Romanova, our favorite spy has to navigate this trap and come out alive.


The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John Le Carré (1963)

Written by a former member of the Secret Intelligence Service, this book is a classic spy novel. Bringing to life a shadowy world of international espionage, this is a tale of Alec Leamas, a British agent who wants to retire from service but must complete a final and potentially fatal assignment, which aims to bring down the head of the East German intelligence.


Seventeen Moments of Spring by Yulian Semyonov (1969)

A spy novel written from the Soviet side of the Cold War, this book is set in 1945, starring Maxim Isaev of the Soviet intelligence. He is planning to leave service but is assigned to go back to the enemy’s lair, ready to face whatever comes so he can best serve his countrymen.


Los Alamos by Joseph Kanon (1997)

A highly charged thriller, this is the story of Mike Connolly, former police reporter turned army intelligence, who arrives at Santa Fe, New Mexico, to meet the scientists assembling an atomic bomb. A highly addictive book, be forewarned that once you pick it up, it is hard to put it down.


Decoded by Mai Jia (2009)

A fairly recent addition to the espionage genre, this is a book written by one of the most successful best-selling authors in China. The book stars Rong Jizhen, a mathematical-genius code breaker recruited by China’s secret service. Assigned in the cryptology department’s Unit 701, he is assigned to break the elusive Code Purple. This is a tale of his descent into madness.


These are just some books that I highly recommend, but I would like to hear your suggestions. Please post them in the comment section below, or tweet me @JamesCWelch. Check out my website to learn more about me and my book, The Wayfarer.

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