Spywrite’s Jeff Quest talks to Spybrary about his favorite Spy books
The name is Quest, Jeff Quest and on episode 008 of Spybrary the man behind Spywrite opens up to Spybrary’s Shane Whaley about his love of spy books.
Spy Write is dedicated to spy fiction and nonfiction in all forms – movies, tv and books, new and old, especially collectible signed fiction.
Jeff Quest shares with us his favorite spy books and talks about his love of collecting first editions. Jeff owns over 300 signed first edition spy novels! (We are going to go into more detail on collecting in a special episode of Spybrary in the future for you spy novel collectors.) Jeff takes us on his journey through spy books starting with those favorites from childhood – The Hardy Boys right through to Charles Cumming and Joseph Kanon, sprinkled in with a bit of Mick Herron and garnished with Carmichael Smith (and many many more!) It is rumored that Jeff buys well over 100 spy books a year!
(You know you are talking to a dedicated follower of spy literature when you get writers cramp listing all the spy books mentioned during the episode for the show notes.)
Jeff dissects the spy genre and gives his analysis on the differences between spy authors such as Fleming, Deighton and Le Carre. He also gives us his observation on the difference between US and British spy thriller writing. Check out the resources section below for the American spy books Jeff recommends. (I am conscious we talk about a lot of British spy writers on Spybrary but always welcome guests who want to talk about some of their favorite American spy novelists.)
This episode is quintessential Spybrary, two spy fans geeking out over spy books and movies. Jeff and his ‘Spybrary’ was even featured in the Chicago Tribune in an article titled, Me, My Shelf and I. It includes an excellent photo of his Spy Book collections.
In this episode, Jeff also shares with us his impression of the International Spy Museum in DC after a recent visit.
After we recorded the episode Jeff wrote a wonderful piece titled Spy Writers Club, here is an extract:
‘It’s little known, but June 29th, 1984 should stand as the date of an amazing event in the history of spies at the Savoy and espionage fiction as a whole. It was the day Len Deighton threw a surprise 75th birthday luncheon for Eric Ambler and invited the most acclaimed British spy novelists to attend.’
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Spy Books, Spy Movies and Spy Resources mentioned in Episode 008 of Spybrary with Jeff Quest from Spywrite.com
The Hardy Boys Casefiles – where it all started for ‘little Jeff’.
The Three Investigators – Jupiter Jones and Co!
Biggles – how Shane got started reading!
Robert Ludlum series of books
The 39 Steps – John Buchan
Ashenden – W Somerset Maugham
The Secret Agent’s Bedside Reader – Michael Smith
The Dark Chronicles – Jeremy Duns
Atomsk – Carmichael Smith (one of the first Cold War Spy books.)
Spy Story – Len Deighton
Berlin Game – Len Deighton
SS-GB – Len Deighton
Winter – Len Deighton
The Deighton Dossier – Excellent website on Len Deighton.
The Stasi Museum – Normannenstrasse. Berlin
Slow Horses Mick Herron – Jackson Lamb series. Jeff Quest recommends you start with this one.
Rat Catcher – Tim Stevens
Foreign Agent – Brad Thor
A Foreign Country – Charles Cumming (Jeff won a competition to name a character in the Thomas Kell trilogy! Can you guess which one he picked?)
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang The Boom in British Thrillers from Casino Royale to The Eagle has Landed – Mike Ripley
The Good German – Joseph Kanon
Defectors – A Novel – Jospeh Kanon
The Long Engagement – Memoirs of a Cold War Legend – John Peet (foreword by Len Deighton.)
The Sandbaggers – TV series (available on DVD and on Youtube – Episode 1 of Sandbaggers.)
Kolymsky Heights – Lionel Davidson (Highly recommended by Jeff!)
The Constant Gardener – Jeff’s favorite spy movie.
The Constant Gardener – John Le Carre novel.
Berlin Station – TV series
MI5 – Spooks TV series
Spooks – The Greater Good – movie based on the TV show.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Movie
A Most Wanted Man – Movie
Our Kind of Traitor – Movie
The Looking Glass War – Movie
Spycast – International Spy Museum’s podcast
Sunday Spy Show – Brian Gray
BBC Spy reality series
Follow Jeff Quest online
Featured image with Jeff in his Spybrary was taken by the Chicago Tribune.