Spies and Adventurers


Únete a LibraryThing para publicar.

Spies and Adventurers

Este tema está marcado actualmente como "inactivo"—el último mensaje es de hace más de 90 días. Puedes reactivarlo escribiendo una respuesta.

Editado: Oct 1, 2008, 2:28 am

Have recently discovered Eric Ambler. Favourites so far are The Mask Of Dimitrios and Cause for Alarm. Any other recommendations, Ambler or others?

An old favourite is The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers.

fixed touchstone

Sep 30, 2008, 4:24 am

Geoffrey Household wrote some very good thrillers - Rogue Male is a classic of the genre and Household belatedly wrote a sequel. Rogue Male is very English in tone.

Sep 30, 2008, 7:39 am

Mmmm...that reminds me that I have The Light of Day by Eric Ambler, but have not read it yet. Perhaps you should try that, Pam?

Sep 30, 2008, 10:39 am

I think John Buchan is considered one of the masters the genre, including the classic Thirty-nine Steps. I like Alistair MacLean, for example When Eight Bells Toll. For the real old-fashioned stuff their is also E. Phillips Oppenheim, I think The Great Impersonation, is still in print.

Sep 30, 2008, 11:45 am

Some of these authors for example John Buchan and E. Phillips Oppenheim are out of copyright in the US (but not in Europe) and a number of their books are on Project Gutenberg.

Helen MacInnes's books may be worth tracking down and many people still have a weakness for the Tommy Hambledon series by Manning Coles.

Other writers you could look for are Desmond Bagley, Hammond Innes (who I would recommend as his protagonists are often normal people). If you like a bit of a gentle piss-take of the spy genre then John Gardner's Boysie Oakes novels are worth searching out.

Oct 1, 2008, 2:37 am

Thank you for the suggestions Aluvabri, Quartzite and Andy. I've read quite a few John Buchan as much for his certainty and his fine young English men as for the plots. Have read one Manning Coles, Drink to Yesterday. Shall seek out the other authors you mention, starting with Oppenheim's The Great Impersonation.

Suggest Ross Thomas as a contemporary adventure author worth reading.

Oct 1, 2008, 2:48 am

Another worthwhile series is by Anthony Price whose books feature an academic historian as spymaster and many of the stories have an historical angle. Some titles include The Old Vengeful and The Labyrinth Makers.

Oct 1, 2008, 9:07 am

I don't know Eric Ambler, but looking at the other authors who have come up (ah yes, John Buchan!), how about The Secret Agent (spies) or The Lost World (adventure)? Then there are authors who specialise on this very thing: Ian Fleming, John Le Carré and perhaps Len Deighton (no touchstones) come to mind. The two themes are often combined in Hergé's wonderful Tintin books, e.g. The Black Island, The Calculus Affair. More recently there's John Banville's The Untouchable based on Cambridge spy Anthony Blunt - I've only read excerpts of it, but it's been on my wishlist for years.

Oct 1, 2008, 10:20 am

I think I thought that Fleming, Le Carré, and Deighton didn't need mentioning - they are the big three of this sub-genre. Although I guess we should also add Graham Greene.

Editado: Oct 2, 2008, 10:44 am

Well, if you like humour and the archetypical anti-hero and you don't mind some very politically incorrect language, Flashman surely is the way to go. Boy, what a cad he is!

Oct 3, 2008, 8:33 am

BartGr, have read and enjoyed a few of the Flashman books and have another cad to recommend. Have you read Kyril Bonfiglioni's The Mortdecai Trilogy? Charlie Mordecai is immoral, degenerate and very, very funny.

I'd probably classify these as crime, rather than adventure.

Oct 3, 2008, 1:48 pm

'Immoral, degenerate and funny' was more than enough to spark my curiosity, so I went looking for more information and found this (among other things):

'Charlie Mortdecai resembles an amoral Bertie Wooster with occasional psychopathic tendencies.'

A psychopathic Bertie? That's just weird and irresistible at the same time. One copy ordered. Thanks!

Oct 3, 2008, 2:42 pm

If you want to try some nonfiction, you could look at some of Peter Hopkirk's books about England's "adventures" in Central Asia.

Oct 4, 2008, 4:09 am

KromsTomes, Hopkirk's books look interesting. Have you read On Secret Service East of Constantinople? Do you have a particular recommendation? I am wondering which one to start with.

Oct 4, 2008, 1:49 pm

Again in the old-fashinoned vein are the Bulldog Drummond books by Sapper. If written today they would be satire.

Editado: Oct 4, 2008, 3:19 pm

I read the Bulldog Drummond books when I was in my early teens. Even then I thought they were shockingly snobbish and anti-semitic. I haven't been back since.

I agree that they give a fascinating view of how some upper-class Brits thought then, but they might be a bit strong for the tender sensibilities of modern readers.

Oct 5, 2008, 5:44 pm

Nobody has mentioned Dornford Yates yet - his stories are a bit dated and rather too self-conscious, but they have a certain period charm. Wealthy Englishmen tearing about the Continent in fast cars rescuing kidnapped countesses while cracking bad jokes. A bit like a cross between Anthony Hope and P.G. Wodehouse. Of course, The prisoner of Zenda is the archetype of most of these adventure stories.

Nevil Shute falls into a similar category to Hammond Innes and Geoffrey Household, although a few of his later books go beyond the scope of adventure stories and turn into serious novels. But he turned into an Anglophobe in his later years, so he probably doesn't belong on this list!

Re Hopkirk - I've read The Great Game and Quest for Kim, both of which are excellent. If you haven't read Kim recently, I would recommend re-reading it to get into the mood before setting out with Hopkirk.

Oct 10, 2008, 6:11 pm


Just a question, what is the story behind yoursaying Nevil Shute became an Anglophobe in his later years. I'm not questioning what you are saying, I don't know much about him.


Editado: Oct 10, 2008, 8:34 pm

Because you speak of Eric Ambler (Message 1), I recommend Anthony Burgess' Tremor of Intent, a really astoundish spy-novel setting on a cruise ship and with a philosophical background. Another (and more recent) nice spy-novel is William Boyd's Restless, which portrays an unforgettable IIWW and Cold War heroine.

Oct 12, 2008, 3:40 am

>18 yareader2:

I don't remember the details, but he got fed up with the Labour government in England after World War II and went off to Australia, hence A town like Alice and On the beach - I think there was a dispute about a house he wanted to build and wasn't allowed to, or had built without permission and had to pull down, and possibly also some dispute with the tax authorities. And he was still moaning about the R101 project being axed in the thirties. It's all in his autobiography, Slide rule, but I don't have a copy here.

Oct 19, 2008, 4:56 am

Many Alistair Maclean's available on Bookmooch, so I have mooched Where Eagles Dare, Ice Station Zebra, When Eight Bells Toll. Also found Restless so mooched it too. Thanks for the recommendations.

Oct 19, 2008, 8:52 am


Tahnks for the info. I loved A Town like Alice and I will read Slide Rule. How interesting that he was an engineer.

Nov 13, 2008, 5:32 pm

Albert Campion all the way! Look to the Lady, Sweet Danger, Traitor's Purse, by Margery Allingham.

Of course, one could mention the Saint, by Leslie Charteris.

Mar 15, 2009, 8:44 am

Have read a few of the spy novels recommended here: Restless was so good that I read another of William Boyd's books, Any Human Heart. Not a spy novel, but also recommended.

Found Hopkirk's Setting the East Ablaze, the competition between Britain and Russia for influence in central Asia. The Russians want to take over India. Historically interesting, and it just zaps along.

Tremor of Intent is on the pile and I have mooched Agent Zigzag.

Mar 21, 2009, 2:04 am

Dropped off a pile of books at the Op Shop the other day and found The Pass beyond Kashmir by Berkely Mather.Ernest Hemingway had a copy and, if you check the book's LT site, you'll find his name under "Recently added by". Highly recommended by Ian Fleming and me.

The copy I have was published in 1962. The Chinese are invading Tibet; the Dali Lama has just escaped. The situation in Kashmir is explosive. Excellent read.

Abr 1, 2009, 2:47 am

Read Medusa by Hammond Innes a fun enough read but I liked The Wreck of Mary Deare and Atlantic Fury better. Also had along Desmond Bagley, The Golden Keel

Abr 6, 2009, 9:55 pm

#25: I wonder how hard that one will be to find. Someone mentioned Len Deighton...I remember going on a huge Deighton binge in the 60s. Seemed to go with the Cold War.

Abr 10, 2009, 9:29 am

Gavin Lyall's Spy's Honour series is a particular favourite of mine: they're written quite recently but set in the early days of the British Secret Service, just before the First World War.

Also, for real-life adventurers you can't go past Fitzroy Maclean's Eastern Approaches, an account of his exploits in Central Asia, the Western Desert and Yugoslavia just before and during World War Two (Maclean is one of the men often mentioned as the model for James Bond). He also wrote A Person From England, but it's hard to get hold of.

Abr 10, 2009, 11:01 am

I've just been reading Agatha Christie's They came to Baghdad - great fun, a sort of Great Game reprise in early 1950s Iraq. There are some wonderfully over-the-top scenes where she's obviously enjoying sending the genre up a bit - notably when the secret agent, Carmichael (surely Carruthers is more usual?), disguised in Arab dress and pursued by a baddy, attracts the attention of an old friend by tapping out "FLOREAT ETONA" in Morse code on his worry beads.

I picked it up quite by chance - I'd never realised either that Christie wrote thrillers or that she was married to an archaeologist and spent quite some time in the Middle East. We live and learn.

Ene 20, 2014, 11:49 am

>28 belemnite: Just stumbled across this group and this thread and I can't believe I missed out on this series. I think I've got everything else he wrote and love 'em! Thanks!

Feb 26, 2014, 5:05 am

> belemnite: My copies of Lyall's Spy series have arrived, I'm in the middle of Spy's honour and I can't thank you enough for bringing it to my notice.