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Twisted Prey - John Sandford

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold - John LeCarre

UNSUB - Meg Gardiner

A Spy Named Orphan by Roland Philipps

How It Happened by Michael Koryta

The Word Is Murder - Anthony Horowitz

Star of the North - D.B. John

The Sinners - Ace Atkins

The Outsider - Stephen King

Spymaster - Brad Thor

The Other Woman - Daniel Silva

The Man Between - Charles Cumming 

Operation Mincemeat - Ben Macintyre 

Berlin: Caught in the Mousetrap by Paul Grant 

Berlin Game - Len Deighton (for the Spybrary book club)

Desolation Mountain - William Kent Krueger

Podcast Favorites . (The life and Legacy of Ian Fleming, with author and historian Jeremy Duns, always an excellent and entertaining interview) . (the true story of Oleg Penkovsky, regarded by many as the greatest spy of the Cold War era - with Jeremy Duns, whose book on the topic, Dead Drop, is a classic) (wonderful history of Ian Fleming's involvement at Bletchley Park during WWII, and Anthony Horowitz making a presentation about his new James Bond novel, Forever And A Day. "How I Nearly Started World War III" with Mark Valley, host of the Live Drop Espionage podcast


Entries in @TheRealBookSpy (5)


The Take by Christopher Reich


Make no mistakes, The Take is a thriller, a mystery, a grand theft drama. Make some coffee if you’re begin reading at night, ‘cause you’re going to be up for a while.

Freelance spy Simon Riske is an opportunist, a spy for hire. He generally considers himself one of the good guys, having spent enough time on the other side of the line to know the players on both sides. He’s been bad, but now he’s bad only when he has to be, working for the good guys. 

When he crosses paths with an adversary from his past, someone who’s surprised Riske is even alive, matters get tense. Hell, his entire life becomes scary. One of the richest men in the world has been robbed, but as the CIA and Russians and French law enforcement are all making clear, there’s so much more involved. Something few people want to acknowledge, much less talk about. Possession and even knowledge of this special item marks one for death. Even so, everyone is after this thing, first and foremost Riske and the CIA.

Add a beautiful French policewoman and some truly horrible criminals to the clever plot, and The Take becomes one of those thrillers mixing intrigue and action difficult to put down.  I felt Riske’s character blossomed and came alive over the course of the novel.

I didn’t stay up all night reading The Take, but it sure as hell captivated me. This is probably the first book by Christopher Reich I’ve read, but I’ll be correcting that.

@Mulhollandbooks, #christopherreich, #thetake, @TheRealBookSpy



Clancy vs King(s)

Last night I began the new Clancy thriller by Marc Cameron, Power and Empire. The author is receiving plenty of good notices already, so I jumped Power and Empire ahead of a couple of others in my to-read pile. It's years since I read Clancy; other than Mark Greaney's adaptations, this is my first since Clancy died.

Another motivation was to be reading a book as big and heavy as the Stephen King (Sleeping Beauties) heavyweight my wife is reading, but she (and both Kings), win the word game.

Fun additional reading: 










@Putnam Books
@StephenKingwriter @OwenKingwriter @ScribnerBooks @TheRealBookSpy 



Act of Betrayal - Matthew Dunn

Lee Child endorsed this one, top of the front cover. Continuing my theme of always trying to read any book either Child or Stephen King writes a blurb for, I dove into Act of Betrayal expecting action and excitement from this Will Cochrane character.

Dunn fulfilled my expectations, presenting a fairly complex guy I found it easy to like and respect. At the same time he was putting Cochrane into relationships and situations I didn’t expect, keeping me alert. Act of Betrayal isn’t a “write by the numbers” thriller with an unbreakable, superpower hero. Will Cochrane lives a complex life with civilians (real people) close to him. 

I found his need to juggle relationships within the CIA and FBI and other covert agencies to ring true and interest me. I wasn’t able to quickly guess what course actions and decisions were going to take. Act of Betrayal isn’t littered with red herrings and false leads, happily. Author Dunn wrote a complex tale of intrigue and betrayal, crossed with good intentions and honor and integrity.

Opening with the assassination of a terrorist financier in Berlin, at the hands of Cochrane, the second chapter jumps forward three years. I was quickly caught up in the spreading web of lies and shadowy relationships surrounding Cochrane and the CIA, FBI and government officials. Finding the truth is the real theme of Act of Betrayal, and what to do with that knowledge is a burden shouldered by several of Cochrane’s friends and opponents. Prepare for plenty of action, motivated and passionate people on both sides of right as they work to unravel a wild conspiracy, and a couple of damn effective surprises.

I’m now a fan of Will Cochrane and Matthew Dunn, and looking forward to searching out the six earlier entries in the series of books featuring Cochrane. 

@WmMorrowBooks, #matthewdunn, #actofbetrayal, @TheRealBookSpy


Every Day Above Ground by Glen Erik Hamilton

Do cover blurbs by popular authors work? If I’m a litmus test, then yes they do. Hell, I still give books a try based on Stephen King recommendations, and he seems to have written hundreds of them! On the cover of Every Day Above Ground, between the author and the title, is “This guy has got what it takes” - Lee Child. 

Bam, I’m in.

Going by the press release, this is the third novel from Hamilton featuring his primary guy, Van Shaw. I’m kinda stunned I’ve been unaware of Glen Erik Hamilton and his work. His Van Shaw is clearly the reason people people compare Hamilton’s work to Lee Child, but I’m telling you, no matter how flattering that is, Every Day Above Ground stands firmly on it’s own. This book is outstanding all the way through.  

Van Shaw is an ex-Army Ranger living in the grey areas between law and his own set of rules. Life since the Army has been tough. He’s trying to rebuild his family home after a fire; his career thief grandfather, his adult role model, has passed away. Shaw is a good guy, by all basic measures, but isn’t afraid to tackle life head-on and utilize his lifetime knowledge of thievery and Army training to take care of himself, and those he cares about.

That compassion is where trouble finds Shaw. Everything in his life begins to unravel after an old prison acquaintance of Van Shaw’s grandfather lands on his doorstep. His  fantastic story and opportunity involving millions of dollars in gold quickly draws Shaw in, though quickly the game changes and the stakes grow much higher. 

Tense action and a lively storyline throughout kept me eagerly reading and wondering and hoping. When millions of dollars in gold bricks are at stake, relationships change quickly and events move faster. 

Hamilton proves to be more than effective with plot and drawing personality on the page. With only his third novel, he assumes a place in the top thriller / mystery ranks. I enjoyed getting to know Van Shaw and several other of his friends, and certainly felt I had a stake in how Shaw was going to extricate himself and his captive friend from the situations they were in. A few timely surprises along the way proved welcome and fit the plot nicely - quite an array of “bad guys” are all over this story.

I look forward to more from Glen Erik Hamilton, and will find copies of his first two novels and add them to my “must read” stack. 

@GlenErikH, @WmMorrowBooks, #EveryDayAboveGround, @TheRealBookSpy



House of Spies - Daniel Silva

I’ve less patience with books than I used to have. It doesn’t take much for me to put a novel aside out of boredom, or sudden realization I don’t give a damn about any of the characters, or worse yet, don’t even feel I know them. 

House of Spies is a big book. These 524 pages make it something decisions have to be made about. Do I lug it to the beach? Out to the deck? Are there all these pages ‘cause the author can’t figure out how to bring people to life with words, or because he thinks he’s Tom Clancy and the plot dances all over the place for the first half?

Yeah, I think of all this stuff. Which makes my applause for Daniel Silva’s House of Spies all the more relevant. Read in a relaxed manner, letting Gabriel Allon, the master spy and assassin disguised as an art restorer, weave his web of accomplices and plots slowly and carefully around the nefarious Saladin, is entirely satisfying every turned page.

Complex spy novels, notably those involving Russians, often become blurry and difficult (and boring) to follow. Silva kept me engaged at all times, with pacing tied closely to events and plot developments. I felt the story unfold around me as I read, helping me care and understand about bad guys turned “almost good guys”. 

Crossing borders amid global terrorism, Allon and his teams form unlikely alliances in an all-hands effort to prevent horrifying acts. How this is pulled together, how everything is even dreamed up, is a testament to the masterful storytelling abilities of author Silva.

Now I’m faced with a great situation. There are a bunch of Daniel Silva’s books I’ve not read, but I'm going to rectify that. Clear a bookshelf!


@danielsilvabook, @TheRealBookSpy, @HarperCollins, #houseofspies, #danielsilva