An Officer And A Spy by Robert Harris

 It is 1895 and French army officer Alfred Dreyfus has been exposed as a spy, found passing military secrets to the Germans. In a piece of cruel public theatre – the sort of flashy display the army has always quite fancied – he is stripped of his soldier’s uniform and his sword is broken in front of thousands…

Colonel Sun by Robert Markham

 You can judge a book by a cover – just look at this one. You wouldn’t need any text to know it’s a James Bond novel. However, Robert Markham isn’t really Robert Markham at all. He’s Kingsley Amis, slumming it in 1968 as an Ian Fleming add-on after the latter put his cue in the rack. Anyway,…

Spies Of The Balkans by Alan Furst

 Spies Of The Balkans is what my father would have called a potboiler. Costa Zanni is not quite a policeman and not really a spy, but he gets all the awkward cases to handle in the northern Greek port of Salonika, the ones that require a bit of diplomatic nous and a light touch. But things…

The Spy Who Loved Me by Ian Fleming

 Oh, I admit it, yes, another Bond. Anyway, one of the great theme tunes (Carly Simon) and perhaps the best stunt – pre-CGI ski-jump off vertiginous precipice, flailing fall to certain death, Union Jack parachute – to begin any film, anywhere, ever. So how does the novel The Spy Who Loved Me go about grabbing the reader’s attention? Simple: by not…

Moonraker by Ian Fleming

 It’s a long way from Fleming’s limpid prose to a portly Roger Moore in a spacesuit. As with most film versions of the James Bond books, the novel provides a title and relatively little else. Anyone expecting high jinks in Rio de Janeiro and Venice may be a mite disappointed: 007 spends most of his…

Restless by William Boyd

Mrs Sally Gilmartin is not in fact a chocolate box Cotswolds village pensioner in the 1970s, she is beautiful and resourceful WWII British spy Eva Delectorskaya. Well, she is both, of course, at different times of her life, as a split narrative written from the point of view of Sally’s twentysomething daughter in the ‘70s…