Category Archives: Espionage

Need to Know: A Novel by Karen Cleveland

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Need to KnowThis book was very highly rated by some of today’s top writers, such as Grisham, Child, and Cornwell. I would recommend that you read it and see if you can discover what they saw in it that I surely missed. If you enjoy spy stories it does fit that genre without a doubt. But overall I didn’t find the tenseness or excitement usually found in spy novels.

Vivian Miller works for the CIA and has been tabbed to be quite a worker with a brilliant future already being touted by some of the higher-ups in her section. Her forte is finding and tracking Russian secret agents who have come to the United States to get as deep into the U.S. intelligence network as possible. Vivian’s abilities allow her to ferret out and identify these agents primarily through intercepting messages from people who have been identified to have some Russian connection. Many of these folks are just normal every day type individuals who are in the U.S. for many varied reasons but the vast majority of them are not spies.

Being able to sort and then really investigate the potential spies is a tough job but Vivian does it while raising a family. She has been married for over 10 years and has four young children. She met her husband, Matt, quite by accident while they both happened to be shopping. He and she collided in an easy manner but then the circumstances provided the opportunity to become friends. This they did and then over the years along came the children.

The Deceiver by Frederick Forsyth

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The DeceiverA very interesting read, although somewhat cumbersome because of naming all the top personnel in all spy ranks all over the world. Sam McCready is in fact The Deceiver. McCready has worked for many years for British intelligence all over the world. He knows all the good and bad guys that are in or have been in his profession. He has excelled in all his endeavors but to many who sit back and watch he is in fact a bit cocky and very unorthodox in his spy techniques.

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Because of changes at the top of the British Secret Intelligence Service there is an ongoing survey of their agents and their capabilities. Strangely enough one of the persons who has proposed a quick out or retirement for McCready is Timothy Heyward who broke in under McCready and has been very jealous of him over the years. However when the powers that be made known their plan to usher him out McCready requested a hearing to understand their plan and to hear his reasons for wanting to stay on.

The Mulberry Bush by Charles McCarry

The Mulberry BushA spy novel that involves many, many people and many, many happenings. So many times I was prone to put it down and forget about it but there was something there always drawing me back.

McCarry has built quite a tale about spies and the spying business. He seems to have done it while all the while keeping parts of it to himself. As an example one has to work hard to find the real name of the main character of the book.

Jack of Spies by David Downing (Review #2)

Jack of Spies

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Quite an interesting book that goes fairly far back in world history where an auto salesman not only fashions himself to be a spy but actually does become just that. The story takes place in the 1910’s prior to World War I. Jack McColl is a Scottish auto salesman who is traveling the world taking orders for a newly minted very expensive automobile. He, his younger brother, and a friend are accompanying one of the first models, showing it off, taking orders, and generally fascinating the public. This is at the time when automobiles were very, very rare and mostly were the Ford Models that were surely not fancy extravagant autos.

Slingshot: A Spycatcher Novel by Matthew Dunn


Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Slingshot is full of espionage, counterespionage, betrayal, and explosive vignettes. The complicated plot thread is exciting to follow through its many twists and turns and keeps the reader engrossed until the very last page.

In 1995 the most powerful military commanders and intelligence officers of the United States and Russia meet clandestinely at an abandoned military barracks in Berlin, and a pact is signed that could potentially lead to over one hundred million people dying. To ensure that none of the participants divulge any information about the agreement, Kurt Schreiber, the chair of the meeting, puts a fail-safe in place; Russia’s most effective and deadliest assassin will be ordered to eliminate anyone who threatens to talk at any time in the future.

Moscow Sting by Alex Dryden

Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

Moscow Sting by Alex DrydenAnna Resnikov is a former KGB colonel, who betrayed her country for love. She married Finn a British spy and they had a child. Soon after a Russian assassin poisoned Finn, Anna disappeared. Anna is now on quite a few lists of people who want her found including the Americans, British and Russians. It is believed that Anna holds some very valuable insider knowledge that could be very important to her country.

Is anyone able to find Anna? Is she able to secure her freedom? Right now, the most important thing to Anna is to protect her child.

Spies of the Balkans by Alan Furst

Reviewed by Cy Hilterman

Spies of The Balkans by Alan FurstI had always like the books of Alan Furst but this one threw me for a loop! Maybe it was me not being able to get into this story but, with my love and interest in books from this period before, during, and after WWII, I figured I would fall right into this spy book and enjoy it thoroughly. Instead, I “waffled” my way through this read. I knew the time, the location, and the events at the time, so I tried very hard to gather all the events together and assimilate them in my mind. I am sure many will enjoy this book and I hope Alan Furst will forgive me for not being a huge fan of his latest book. I read and review many books and very rarely give a negative opinion in any review. So bear with me so you will understand the story and then decide that you DO want to read it.

The story takes place mainly in Greece before the Germans have overtaken Greece and the surrounding nations, although they were pressing onward to so do. The main person in the book is a senior police official, Costa Zannis, who is valiantly working behind the scenes to liberate those endangered by the Nazi’s by getting them to a safe country in any way possible. Modes used were cars or trucks, train, airplane, ship or boat, or merely walking across open land to cross borders to achieve some safety. Zannis and those that worked with him had to be very careful since they hoped that those involved in assisting getting those individuals or families to a safer place could not always be trusted.

Eventually Zannis was told he was a captain in the military of Greece but he mainly stayed in his own locale doing his thing helping others escape. He also had some lovers, some from other times and some new, that made him wish they were in other times but he did what he could to help others and keep a few he loved closer to him through letters when possible or in person, which was becoming more rare. Zannis traveled much by various means to reach those needing help to get to a safe place, travel that always brought more danger into his life. He even had contacts to get papers for those he assisted when they needed them. He was highly thought of by most, even some that were on the fence of their thinking with the major change coming to the area. Everyone knew what had occurred in the areas Germany had already overrun but they hoped and prayed that they would not suffer the same results in their area.