Spybrary is a podcast for fans of spy books, spy tv and spy movies since 2017. We bring you author interviews and reader discussions on our favorite spy books and novels.
The Innocent By Ian McEwan- Brush Pass Review
16:02The Innocent by Ian McEwan is a thrilling novel set in 1950s Berlin during the early stages of the Cold War. The book follows the story of Leonard Marnham, a young British post office technician who is sent to Berlin to work on a top-secret project. Leonard is a naive and inexperienced young man who quickly becomes embroiled in a dangerous game of espionage and deceit. Tim Shipman, in his best spy authors list, ranked Ian McEwan at #77 and wrote: 'Another literary novelist who has tried his hand at espionage. Unlike Sebastian Faulks, an author I usually like, but whose attempt at a Bond novel reads like a literary novelist who thinks writing a thriller is easy and somewhat beneath him, McEwan has twice come up with a winner, perhaps because he treated the subject matter like any other subject for literary examination. The Innocent is a twisty gripper of a book, which embroils a naive telecoms worker in the 1950s tunnel the allies built under the Russian sector of Berlin to tap their communications. He falls for a German woman and his two worlds collide. Tim Shipman Regular listeners know about my love for Berlin-based espionage novels, and having never read any of Ian McEwan's work then, I had to give this one a go, especially as it features appearances by real life spy/traitor George Blake with the main backdrop to the story being the Berlin tunnel that the Allies dug deep under Berlin, not to get people out, but to listen to Soviet communications from their HQ in East Berlin, Karlshorst! On today's episode of Spybrary I share my brush pass review of The Innocent with you. Have you read Ian McEwan's The Innocent? Come and let us know your thoughts on the Spybrary fans community.
Conversation with Authors David Brierley and Mike Ripley
1:03:37On Episode 204 of the Spybrary Spy Book Podcast, we chat with the author of the best spy book I read last year, Big Bear Little Bear, David Brierley. We are also joined by the publisher, thriller critic, and author Mike Ripley as we dig into David's work and, in particular, how he researches locations for his spy novels. Join the Spybrary Community As I shared in the best spy books of 2022 post, Big Bear Little Bear, published in 1981, was the best spy thriller I read last year. It was hard to ignore this recommendation from Mike Ripley, who shared that the man himself, Len Deighton, had stumbled on a copy of Big Bear Little Bear in a second-hand shop in LA and loved it. He urged Mike to republish Brierley's work under his Ostara publishing arm. David Brierley comes in at #63 on Tim Shipman's best spy writers of all time list: 'Brierley created Cody, one of the very best female leads in spy fiction. She is a CIA trained agent who has gone freelance, who we first meet in Cold War, a 1979 novel set in the midst of a French election, which involves assassination, betrayal, and real tension (It scores 4.14 on GoodReads, which is much higher than a lot of books I love). Cody is resourceful and Brierley was hailed on publication as “a new name joins the world’s greatest spy fiction writers”. Best of all his books are not long and written with a spare and unflashy style that nonetheless has real novelistic flair. This is espionage for grown-ups. Blood Group O, Skorpion’s Death and Snowline followed. Between those Cody books, Brierley also became renowned for spy thrillers set in Eastern Europe, such as Czechmate. His best book, though, is Big Bear Little Bear set in 1948 Berlin, before the airlift, where the sole survivor of a blown network works to expose a traitor in British intelligence. My paper, The Sunday Times, reviewed it thus: “ Has the rancid strength of a distillation of the best of Le Carré and Deighton: an authentic winner.” That this praise is only slightly excessive tells you what you need to know.' Big Bear Little Bear by David Brierley Kiss Kiss Bang - The Boom in British Thrillers by Mike Ripley Dead Man Telling Tales by David Brierley - just released (2023) Czechmate by David Brierley Jeff Popple (Spybrarian) Review of Czechmate Skorpions Death by David Brierley The Cloak and Dagger Girl by David Brierley Best Spy Books of 2022 (Spybrary) Tim Shipman's best spy writers ranked list. Adam Hall/Elleston Trevor Raymond Chandler Join the Spybrary Community
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A Conversation with Spy Author Adam Brookes
1:08:31Today’s guest is writer Adam Brookes. Adam spent over a decade working for the BBC, appearing on television and radio while crisscrossing the globe and spending extended amount of time in both China and the US. He’s also written for publications such Foreign Policy and The Economist. His first espionage novel, Night Heron, was released in 2014 and was followed by Spy Games and The Spy’s Daughter. His most recent book is Fragile Cargo: China's Wartime Race to Save the Treasures of the Forbidden City currently out in the UK and releasing February 14th in the US. We discuss his past as a foreign correspondent, the ethics of a reporter spy, how to understand the government in China and his spy novels. Plus the forgotten history of China in WW2, his new book Fragile Cargo and what he thinks about le Carré’s The Honourable Schoolboy. All that and much much more in this episode. Discussed in the episode: Adam’s Website - https://www.adambrookes.com/ Adam’s Twitter - https://twitter.com/AdamBrookesWord Adam’s spy trilogy - Night Heron, Spy Games, The Spy’s Daughter - https://www.adambrookes.com/philip-mangan-series Fragile Cargo: China’s Wartime Race to Save the Treasures of the Forbidden City - US - https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Fragile-Cargo/Adam-Brookes/9781982149291 UK - https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/441577/fragile-cargo-by-brookes-adam/9781784743796 The le Carré Cast - https://lecarrecast.com/ Jeff’s Website - https://spywrite.com/ Jeff on Twitter - https://twitter.com/spywrite
The Best Spy Books of 2022
33:10It is that time of year once again when book critics and reviewers are asked what are the best spy books of the year. Spybrary is a ‘by spy fans for spy fans' production so it is in that spirit that we asked our own Spybrary Podcast listeners and community members to reveal what were their best spy books of 2022 with a twist. We asked our spy book readers two questions. What is the best spy book you have read that was published in 2022? What is the best espionage novel you have read this year that was published before 2022? So if you are looking for spy book recommendations, then read on. Warning, Spybrary does not accept any liability for bankruptcies or divorces that may occur as a result of you browsing this list of the best espionage novels! If you are looking to join a community of other spy book fans then do come and join us over at the Spybrary Community.
Spy Rewind - 'James Bond On a Horse' aka The Wild Wild West
1:00:11In this Christmas episode of Spy Rewind, Matthew and Jeff take a look at the episode "The Night of Whirring Death" of the 60’s tv show The Wild Wild West. They discuss how WWW is the old west’s James Bond, the great Michael Dunn as one of the best villains - Professor Loveless, and Richard Kiel before Jaws! Plus, spy Christmas traditions! All that and more in this episode of Spybrary.
Ian Fleming's Dr No- The James Bond Book Club
1:13:19The James Bond Book Club is back! This is the series where we discuss each Ian Fleming James Bond novel as if we are in the year of publication. Today it's the turn of Quarrel, Strangeways, HoneyChile Rider, and a fiend called Dr No! What is the Spybrary James Bond Book Club exactly and what makes it different from other 007 book clubs? On the James Bond Book Club, we get in our time machine and go back to the year of publication. We dissect each of the Ian Fleming 007 novels in order and include themes such as : 1) Discussing the timing of each book. The year in which it was written. The zeitgeist of that time. Key historic and cultural events. 2) Background to the plot and any links to Fleming’s personal experiences. 3) The U.K.'s first edition cover art. 4) The plot. 5) Locations 6) Bond’s character development. 7) The Villain. 8) La femme fatale. 9) The supporting cast. 10) The branding. 11) Key set pieces and the best chapters. 12) Critical reception We will not be referring to or discussing the 007 movies. We will only be referencing previous books rather than those published in the future - as if we are experiencing the work of Fleming for the first time.
From Russia With Love Video Game - Brush Pass Review
14:10Our Man in Alabama Matthew Kresal gives us the lowdown on the 2005 video game of From Russia With Love starring Sean Connery in this Spybrary Brush Pass. 'The game was the last James Bond video game released by Electronic Arts before they lost the rights to Activision in 2006, as well as Sean Connery's last role before retirement and death.' James Bond Wiki Join your fellow listeners and spy fans in our online community
The John le Carre Movie Club - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
1:31:21Smiley is suspicious Percy! Today we kick off the John le Carre movie club series on the Spybrary Podcast. Once a month, our panel will take a deep dive into a John le Carre movie. To start the series, a full debriefing of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with Jeff Quest of the Le Carre Cast, Double O Section's Matthew Bradford and Spybrary commentator Martin Reynolds. That and more in this episode of the Spybrary Spy Podcast
Former Cabinet Minister and author Alan Johnson talks books and writing on Spybrary
32:47This week we welcome the former Home Secretary and best-selling author Alan Johnson to the Spybrary Podcast. In this informative and fun chat, Spybrary host Shane Whaley asks Alan Johnson how his background as Home Secretary helped him to write his fiction books Late Train to Gipsy Hill and One of Our Ministers is Missing. The Director General of MI5 reports to the Home Secretary, and whilst we knew Alan Johnson would not share details of those meetings, Shane could not resist asking him what advice he would give to a new Home Secretary regarding managing the working relationship with MI5. That and more in this episode of the Spybrary Spy Podcast
The Liar: How a Double Agent in the CIA Became the Cold War's Last Honest Man
53:16This week we welcome Benjamin Cunningham to the show. Cunningham wrote the recently released book The Liar: How a Double Agent in the CIA Became the Cold War's Last Honest Man a book that the publisher calls “the Cold War meets Mad Men in the form of Karel Koecher, a double agent whose shifting loyalties and over-the-top hedonism reverberated from New York to Moscow.” It’s a wild story of swapping secrets, wife swapping and spy swaps. We talk about the Prague Spring, declassified documents, and interviewing difficult subjects. All that and more in this episode with Spybrary host Jeff Quest.