Best Spy Novels for the Thrill and Chase

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Spy novels include spy thrillers, a subgenre of fiction with a plot involving espionage and secret operatives. Spy stories sometimes feature government agents working against the time to stop a major attack or disclose a nemesis’s plans to rescue lives—and occasionally even the globe. They can be equal parts action-adventure and thriller.

Today, we shall look at the best spy novels you can enjoy binge-reading.

Best Spy Novels You Should Read

1. Bourne Identity: Jason Bourne by Robert Ludlum

Jason Bourne has no memory of his past and might not even get to see his future. His only memory is being shot several times and getting fished out of the sea.

A microfilm frame surgically placed under the skin of his hip provides hints. He learns of proof that his face has changed as a result of plastic surgery. He hallucinates and speaks odd things. Part of the film’s negative connects to a Swiss bank account containing $4M and the name Jason Bourne.

What brought him to this confusing dilemma? Why is he trapped in a race for survival while trying to learn about his past? The dark depths of his long-buried past involve a peculiar world of violent conspirators led by Carlos, the most lethal assassin in the world.

The character Jason Bourne could not be so different from a James Bond-type persona, from a cold-war drama to a delightful spy story. If you want to experience an adrenaline-pumping thriller or a puzzling spy story, this book will surely satisfy your cravings.

2. The Cellist by Daniel Silva

Death had long been Viktor Orlov’s scheduled appointment. He was once the wealthiest man in Russia but now lives in isolation in London.

The Metropolitan Police found that one of Orlov’s employees, a well-known investigative journalist from the Kremlin-critical Moskovskaya Gazeta, transported them to his residence. The reporter disappears from London hours after the murder.

Does an MI6 officer have all the right details to conclude that the journalist is an assassin from the Moscow Center? Has this assassin deftly breached Orlov’s strong defenses?

Gabriel Allon, who owes Viktor Orlov his very life, thinks his British intelligence friends are gravely mistaken. His frantic pursuit of the truth will lead him from London to Geneva. In Geneva, a private intelligence outfit run by a friend of the Russian president is employing “active measures” to undermine the West.

The Cellist is a fascinating spy story from the award-winning author, Daniel Silva. His creations never fail to astound his readers. Can Grabiel Allon’s pursuit of truth stop the terror? Can he win against the dangerous missions?

3. The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by Ben Macintyre

Oleg Gordievsky was the most likely candidate compared to the notorious British double-agent Kim Philby in Russia. In 1968, he accepted his first position with Russian intelligence, rising to become the highest office in the Soviet Union. Not long after, he was secretly working for MI6.

He exposed Russian spies and thwarted countless intelligence plots as the Soviet leadership grew more fearful of the United States. Their nuclear weapons’ first-strike capabilities might push the world ever closer to war. 

MI6 was desperate to keep the circle of trust small, so it withheld Gordievsky’s name from its CIA counterparts. In turn, it became fixated on discovering the identity of Britain’s high-level source. 

Will their obsession ultimately doom Gordievsky? Wouldn’t the agent assigned to identify him eventually move on to the other side? 

This clever thriller is one of the many fascinating spy stories that will unleash the James Bond in you. The renowned author of Double Cross and Rogue Heroes makes a triumphant comeback with his finest espionage narrative. He created an exciting account of Oleg Gordievsky, a Russian whose covert activity aided in the early end of the Cold War. 

This classic novel with a story of nuclear espionage and mystery would make up a delightful spy story that would blow your mind.

4. The Lighting Rod by Brad Meltzer

Archie Mint has a secret. He has enjoyed a good private life, a lovely wife, two admirable children, and a fruitful military career. However, his family is devastated when he is gunned down while trying to stop a robbery in his home.

They are stunned when the other shoe drops. Mint has been concealing illegal secrets that none of them could have predicted.

Mortician “Zig” Zigarowski finds something he wasn’t supposed to see while preparing Mint’s body for his funeral. This significant fact directs him to Mint’s former military unit and his relationship with Nola Brown, an artist. Zig’s life was saved by Nola two years ago, so he is more aware of most of her erratic nature and potential for danger.

Following Nola’s lead, he learns some mystery stories like one of the most closely held secrets of the American government. He discovered a Cold War military facility that has been kept secret.

The Lightning Rod is fantastic because of the enticing, well-executed chemistry between Nola and Zig. A clever thriller, indeed! 

The story is a new from-the-headlines thriller from the award-winning author Brad Meltzer. He was the author known to share a secret note that George W Bush left the office for Bill Clinton. Nonetheless, this is one of the most brilliant thrillers of this author’s many nonfiction books.

5. Agent in Berlin by Alex Gerlis

British intelligence officer Barnaby Allen is enlisting German agents. These spies soon become their own as diplomatic relations rapidly deteriorate.

Allen’s network discovers top-secret schematics for a fighter plane – and a devastating piece of information. However, can they back it up?

This spy thriller carefully feeds its readers with different elements of espionage by Alex Gerlis’ team of spies, and they grow to feel quite real. In some aspects, it is a terrible account of the demands of espionage during wartime. Decency and politeness should be put aside to aid the resistance movement and bring the war to a conclusion.

If you want the historical spy thriller genre and a spy story worthy of your time, there is no need to look for other books. This book is an excellent option. The book is utterly fascinating, masterfully written, credible, and relatable.

6. The Asset by Saul Herzog

Lance Spector vowed never to return to the CIA after he left. He would lose it if the administration told one more lie. They could hire a different person for the Secret Service if they wish to complete their dirty work. He believed Langley, the Pentagon, and Washington could all burn in hell.

A covert Russian mission gathering a deadly new infection from frozen mammoth corpses takes place in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The apocalypse-level infection, a virus deadlier than anything to emerge from a Russian lab, is the super biological weapon they have been searching for. It is something that will put a halt to NATO and the Americans.

This classic novel might be far from the nonfiction books most readers read. But this is one of the must-read books on espionage if you want to experience puzzling spy stories or witness a biological warfare espionage genre. This book is a brilliant thriller crafted by none other than Saul Herzog. 

7. The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal by David Hoffman

This fascinating spy story starts on February 16, 1978. The head of the CIA in Moscow just received an envelope from an unidentified Russian. Americans were completely unaware of the information it contained. 

From 1979 until 1985, an engineer at a military research center exposed a secret Soviet military research institution. He uncovers tens of thousands of pages of documentation on the most recent improvements in aviation technology, alerting Americans to possible future innovations.

How do the Soviet state’s atrocities drive one guy to become an expert spy against his own country? What can a disgruntled former CIA trainee do to retaliate through the KGB?

David E. Hoffman draws inspiration for this fascinating spy story from unsealed CIA documents and interviews with foreign correspondents. This book delivers readers a true-to-life espionage nonfiction thriller. No one has ever presented this narrative in such depth because of his extensive knowledge of spycraft, the Cold War, and military technology.

8. The Kremlin’s Vote by Andrew Turpin

The CIA sends Robinson on a covert mission to deal with one of its most important assets in the Kremlin – a person she recruited.

Instead, she is battling to understand an apparent threat that appears to be headed for the White House.

For Robinson, the task suddenly and profoundly becomes personal. Can she outsmart one of the deadliest Russian foreign intelligence service operators?

In this web of lies and deceit, nothing is as it seems.

The stakes increase as she approaches the causes of the killings. Will Robinson be able to stave off the dangers that contemporary Russian espionage can present?

Jayne Robinson is the new James Bond. The Kremlin’s Vote is a well-written, enjoyable narrative that is undoubtedly timely. The main character was likable, and readers tend to enjoy this delightful spy story. 

If you want a fascinating spy story, this book is recommended and worthy of your time.

9. Blue Madagascar by Andrew Kaplan

She was an unwanted child from Central Los Angeles’ rough streets. Her next move as a Homeland Security Special Agent could determine how America develops.

Nobody knows why a presidential candidate killed himself. On the French Riviera, an unidentified guy is killed during a jewelry robbery. The world’s intelligence services are rushing. U.S. Homeland Security dispatches the one female who may be able to discover Blue Madagascar’s mystery before it’s too late. 

The trail leads her on a cat-and-mouse pursuit across Europe. Others are also vying for the mystery and will kill to have it. 

10. The Enemies of My Country by Jason Kasper

David Rivers is a top-tier assassin and a seasoned operative who has worked as a ranger and mercenary. He is currently a CIA contractor carrying out covert operations worldwide.

However, David Rivers has a calm life as a family man in his remote mountain home in Virginia. Even his wife is unaware of his work’s actual nature due to the validity of his coverup, one of the most important elements of espionage.

Rivers discovers information pointing to an impending attack on U.S. soil while working to assassinate a foreign agent halfway around the world. Can he find the terrorists before it gets too late?

This novel is a classic with its never-ending action, suspense, and plot twists. It has an intriguing plot that can have you at the edge of your seat.

Enemies of My Country is another breath-taking and clever thriller from Jason Kasper. It will take you on a rollercoaster trip that you should not miss.

11. Call for the Dead by John Le Carre

Nobody would consider George Smiley a spy, which may explain why he is such a natural. However, it seems that Smiley made a wrong move. He concluded that the friendly Samuel Fennan had nothing to hide during a formal security interview. So why would the foreign office employee shoot himself just hours later? Or did he?

Call for the Dead is a crucial introduction to John le Carre’s immoral universe. This suspenseful story of intrigue started both the novelist and the spy careers.

If you haven’t read any John le Carre books, you should start with this one. It has the element of espionage and can be considered one of the most delightful spy stories.

Call for the Dead is a spy novel worthy of a renowned master of spy novels, John le Carre. John Le Carre is a well-known spy novel author alongside Joseph Kanon, Charles Cumming, Jason Mathews, Len Deighton, Eric Ambler, and many more. This novel is a puzzling spy story that will take you to the next level of suspense and thrill.

12. RED SPARROW by Jason Matthews

Dominika Egorova has been chosen to train as a Sparrow. Sparrows are State intelligence agents in modern-day Russia, skilled in using seduction to get information from their targets. 

After some twists and turns, she gets the task of leaving Berlin and working with Nathaniel Nash, a CIA agent. He manages the agency’s most classified penetration into Russian intelligence. 

How does a young woman survive in a fraught environment of tradecraft, deception, and, unavoidably, a barred spiral of sexual attraction?

Red Sparrow is one of the classic novels written by Jason Matthews, a former Central Intelligence Agency operative. Jason Matthews chose to become a novelist, following other intelligence officers like John le Carré, Ian Fleming, and Charles McCarry. These authors used their experience as former agents to write their classic novels.

This book suits you if you love spy thrillers, cold war drama, and anything related.

13. Transcription by Kate Atkinson

One of the many classics and historical spy thrillers is about an 18-year-old Juliet Armstrong who is reluctantly enlisted into the spy industry in 1940. She is assigned to a secret MI5 division entrusted with keeping track of the whereabouts of British fascist sympathizers. She finds the work to be alternatingly dull and horrifying. After the war, she assumes that those years’ events are now permanently in the past.

As a present-day radio producer for the BBC, will Juliet unexpectedly face characters from her past? Now that a separate war is being fought on a different front, will Juliet be in danger again? The day of judgment is coming, and she is starting to understand that nothing happens in a vacuum.

As a superb example of Atkinson’s mature work, Transcription can be compared to its recent forebears. It is a philosophical novel that is also witty, clever, and fast-paced. It is a novel with a clever thriller that does not miss any espionage element in a delightful spy story.

Though this is not one of the nonfiction books, Transcription pulls at the heartstrings more subtly than A God in Ruins. Even as it challenges us to reflect on recent events and the costs of our decisions, it may not have the same emotional impact. It couldn’t be more appropriate now.

Which among these best spy novels do you find the most intriguing? Let us know. If you need to look for more spy thriller books, look for the works of John Buchan, Joseph Conrad, Frederick Forsyth, and Tom Clancy.

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