The 10 Best Spy Novels

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This wiki has been updated 19 times since it was first published in March of 2018. Double crosses. Sleeper cells. Turncoat agents. If the mere mention of these things gets your pulse racing, you'll want to pick up a few of these spy novels. Filled with intrigue and espionage, these books will leave you guessing who the good guys are — and where the hours went. Just don't blame us if you find yourself trying to dig up secrets on your friends and co-workers as a result. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. The Spy Who Came In From The Cold

2. Daughter of War

3. The Alice Network

Editor's Notes

January 23, 2020:

Just as suspenseful and heart-pounding as a good thriller, spy novels have the added benefit of high-tech equipment, intense action scenes, and insight into the inner workings of everything from corrupt governments to military task forces. Many also happen to be written by ex-agents and analysts and retired military personnel, such as Red Sparrow and Daughter of War, or journalists and political science majors, like The Faithful Spy and Agent in Place. As such, you get your fiction with a heavy dose of realism.

Today we said goodbye to The Sympathizer and The Darkling Spy. The Sympathizer, while an excellent portrayal of the view from the other side of the Vietnam War, suffers from stilted metaphors, disjointed pacing, and stodgy writing in places, as well as a protagonist who comes off as inauthentic at times. We took the opportunity to replace it with Daughter of War, a recent release by a veteran spy writer that's been, so far, well received. This novel uses current events as its jumpoff point and introduces well-rounded characters that are easy to fall in love with.

We also added The Killer Collective, another new release that takes two separate elite agencies and weaves them together, making for an exciting plot that goes at a breakneck pace. It also features compelling red-herrings and sensitively deals with disturbing subject matter without being overly gratuitous.

4. House of Spies

5. The Killer Collective

6. Red Sparrow

7. Need to Know

8. Agent in Place

9. Slow Horses

10. The Faithful Spy

Gia Vescovi-Chiordi
Last updated by Gia Vescovi-Chiordi

Born in Arizona, Gia is a writer and autodidact who fled the heat of the desert for California, where she enjoys drinking beer, overanalyzing the minutiae of life, and channeling Rick Steves. After arriving in Los Angeles a decade ago, she quickly nabbed a copywriting job at a major clothing company and derived years of editing and proofreading experience from her tenure there, all while sharpening her skills further with myriad freelance projects. In her spare time, she teaches herself French and Italian, has earned an ESL teaching certificate, traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States, and unashamedly devours television shows and books. The result of these pursuits is expertise in fashion, travel, beauty, literature, textbooks, and pop culture, in addition to whatever obsession consumes her next.

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