Top 5 spy novels of all time

To the conflicting theories that Frank Olson “jumped or fell” another possibility was added: he was dropped. Frank Olson’s death came to embody our collective fascination with the Cold War’s dark secrets, and it shined light on the dubious privileges men in the CIA gave themselves in the name of national security.

Source: The Literary Spy Novel: Five Recommendations | Electric Literature

7 thoughts on “Top 5 spy novels of all time”

  1. Scott Sullivan

    The article mentions Graham Greene’s quote that Ambler was “our greatest thriller writer.” I always wondered if that wasn’t intended as a subtle slight, seeing how guardedly Greene separated his “entertainments” from his “novels.”

    Whatever the case, Greene’s Ministry of Fear would make my list.

  2. Roy W Kornbluth

    The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad, chilling and prescient.

    The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton, humorous and political.

  3. I would add “The Tears of Autumn,” by Charles McCarry, an absolutely first-rate novel about 11/22.
    The novel’s theory of who was behind the assassination might strike some as far-fetched but I thought McCarry made his theory more plausible than most of the non-fiction conspiracies I’ve read.

  4. While I appreciate Mr. Vidich’s selections and look forward to his latest offering, that is like asking which Dead concert was the best. If you ‘chrome’ “best spy novels of all time”, you’ll see ‘WhatCulture’ with the top 20. And muchmore.

    The real stuff is better, but much inspiration comes from these fictitious spymasters, i.e. Hunt or DAP.

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