A Spy Alone – Interview with Charles Beaumont, Former MI6 Officer Turned Author

A Spy Alone by Charles Beaumont
Spybrary's David Clark talks spy fiction and A Spy Alone – the debut novel from former MI6 Officer Charles Beaumont

In this episode of the Spybrary podcast, host David Clark interviews former MI6 officer and debut author Charles Beaumont, whose novel A Spy Alone has just been published in the UK. (Available on Kindle elsewhere.)

A QUICK HEADS UP. A Spybrary first, due to Charles Beaumont's work for the Intelligence Services, our technical division has digitally altered his voice to protect his identity.

Spybrary's David Clark and Charles Beaumont discuss the themes of the book, including Russian interference in the UK's political affairs, the complexities of modern espionage, and the influence of spy fiction on real-world intelligence operations. Charles shares his literary influences, the portrayal of characters in his book, and the challenges of writing spy fiction in the post-Cold War era.

Charles also reveals which spy movies and spy TV series he rates best!

Tune in for an intriguing conversation about the intersection of spy literature and real-life espionage.

A Spy Alone by Charles Beaumont

So what is A Spy Alone By Charles Beaumont all about, Shane?

‘This is first class' The Times

‘A stunning debut' Maxim Jakubowski, Crime Time

‘A marvelously confident debut, sharply observed and exceptionally well written’ Charles Cumming, author of Box 88

Everyone knows about the Cambridge Spies from the Fifties, identified and broken up after passing national secrets to the Soviets for years. But no spy ring was ever unearthed at Oxford. Because one never existed? Or because it was never found…?

2022: Former spy Simon Sharman is eking out a living in the private sector. When a commission to delve into the financial dealings of a mysterious Russian oligarch comes across his desk, he jumps at the chance.

But as Simon investigates, worrying patterns begin to emerge. His subject made regular trips to Oxford, but for no apparent reason. There are payments from offshore accounts that suddenly just… stop.

Has he found what none of his former colleagues believed possible, a Russian spy ring now nestled at the heart of the British Establishment? Or is he just another paranoid ex-spook left out in the cold, obsessed with redemption?

From Oxford’s hallowed quadrangles to brush contacts on Hampstead Heath, agent-running in Vienna and mysterious meetings in Prague, A Spy Alone is a gripping international thriller and a searing portrait of modern Britain in the age of cynical populism. Perfect for readers of Charles Cumming, Mick Herron and John le Carré.

Thank you to today's sponsor:


Prepare for a riveting journey into a world of espionage, where secrets are the name of the game and gadgets are the real stars. SPYSCAPE Studios drops its podcast series titled ‘A History of the World in Spy Objects,’ with thrilling stories and enigmatical objects. 

Hosted by historian, TV presenter, author and social media star Alice Loxton, the project promises to offer a deep dive into the hidden histories of iconic artefacts that have played significant roles in shaping the world. The impressive guest line-up includes Thomas HeatherwickDaniel ArshamKengo KumaMarc Newson, and Joana Vasconcelos, and they are bound to reveal cunning tales of objects, ranging from Napoleon’s actual briefcase to poison-tipped umbrellas.

best spy writers ranked
The best spy writers ranked by the Sunday Times' Tim Shipman, grab your copy here.

Did you know that one of the UK's top journalists Tim Shipman of The Sunday Times, has a passion for espionage novels? And that he has meticulously curated a compendium of his favorite 125 spy authors for the Spybrary Podcast and Community, all carefully ranked with suggestions on which book to start with from each spy author.

Grab your copy of this invaluable dossier and as a bonus, your enlistment ushers you into the monthly Spybrary Briefing, where we divulge imminent and upcoming spy book releases.

Spybrary Spy Podcast Discussion Group
Chat more about spy books in our Spybrary discussion group

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2 Responses
  1. […] I’m going to restrict myself to books published in 2023, otherwise I would find it impossible to narrow my selection down to five.The Private Life of Spies by Alexander McCall Smith – This book of short stories shows that spy fiction doesn’t always need to dwell on the darker aspects of human nature, such as conflict and betrayal. It can also be used to tell uplifting stories of people muddling through against the odds. I loved this book’s humanity, wistfulness and wry humour.The Secret Hours by Mick Herron – My favourite Mick Herron book is always the last one I read because each instalment builds on the last to create a richer appreciation of the characters and the world they inhabit. This goes a step further by giving us the Slough House origins story, all done with the usual biting humour and fine eye for the absurdities of bureaucracy.The Peacock and the Sparrow by I.S. Berry – I tend not to prefer first-person narratives, but it really works in this book, allowing us to get into the mind of an American spy as his life and mission slide out of control. It felt very much like a modern Graham Greene, both in the themes explored and the quality of storytelling.Moscow X by David McCloskey – I haven’t read Damascus Station yet, but I now see why David McCloskey has already established himself as one of the hottest properties in the genre. This book provides a refreshing insight into how modern intelligence operations are built and run. Also, Artemis Procter has to be one of the most interesting characters in contemporary spy fiction along with Jackson Lamb.A Spy Alone by Charles Beaumont – Best for last. This was my favourite book of the year, probably because it’s the first book to accurately depict important aspects of the modern spy game, such as the nature and scope of Russian political influence operations, the strange alliances they form and the blurring of lines between state and private intelligence operators attempting to expose them. All skilfully done, with some really great characters.Check out David Clark's interview with former MI6 Officer turned author, Charles Beaumont. […]

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