In this episode of the Spybrary Spy Book Podcast, it's Dead Drop 5, and guest James Bond Bondologist Matthew Dewhurst-Grice reveals his five best James Bond novels. These are the James Bond books that he has asked his handler to stash in a dead drop behind the Iron Curtain
He shares how he first discovered the James Bond books and discusses his appreciation for Ian Fleming‘s work. The conversation covers topics such as the historical significance of the original James Bond books, the controversy surrounding the “sensitization” of some Bond editions, and the potential for new audiences to discover and appreciate the James Bond books.
Spybrary host Shane Whaley also asks Matthew about his experience attending the premiere of the James Bond film, No Time to Die at the Royal Albert Hall London.
Join us on the Spy Book Podcast, Spybrary, and discover the thrilling world of spy books in our exclusive spy book series, ‘Dead Drop 5'.
Spy Books and Dead Drops…what is this series exactly?
This riveting series is a crowd favorite, but be warned, your bank balance may take a hit based on these spy book recommendations. In these episodes, our brave podcast guests are dispatched on a clandestine mission behind the Iron Curtain, where danger lurks at every shadowy corner.
But fear not, they won't embark on this perilous journey unequipped.
Our intrepid agents can request five spy novels to be stashed in the East Berlin dead drop.
But that's not all.
Beyond these spy books, our guests are granted a selection of useful items, each carefully curated to make their stay in East Berlin more manageable, perhaps even a touch more comfortable.
Join host Shane Whaley as he interviews author Stephen England about his upcoming mission to East Berlin and the five books he would like to take. They discuss the importance of well-written prose in spy novels and Stephen's book choices, including “Private Wars” by Greg Rucka and “The Agent Runner” by Simon Conway.
Get ready to dive into ‘Dead Drop 5‘, only on Spybrary, but be warned, this series could seriously damage your bank account!
Matthew's top five best James Bond Books are….
Are you a fan of spy novels that transport you to different times and places? Do you appreciate well-written prose that captures the life of being Britain's, if not the world's best spy? Look no further than these five James Bond book recommendations from Bondologist Matthew Dewhurst-Grice.
Casino Royale” by Ian Fleming
Casino Royale introduces readers to the world of espionage and high-stakes gambling. In this thrilling novel, James Bond, a newly minted secret agent, is assigned to thwart the plans of Le Chiffre, a dangerous financier with terrorist ties. Bond's mission takes him to the glamorous Casino Royale, where he must outwit his adversaries in a high-stakes poker game.
With its gripping storyline, intricate plot twists, and the introduction of the iconic character of James Bond, Casino Royale remains a timeless classic and a must-read for fans of thrilling spy adventures.
With A Mind To A Kill by Anthony Horowitz
With a Mind To A Kill, the forty-first official James Bond novel, is a thrilling story written by Anthony Horowitz, a talented writer and screenwriter from England. It was published in May 2022 by Vintage Books, with the support of Ian Fleming Publications.
This exciting adventure occurs after Ian Fleming's last book, “The Man with the Golden Gun,” written in 1965. Interestingly, this is Horowitz's first James Bond novel that includes no “extra material” credited to Ian Fleming. So get ready for a captivating tale filled with action and suspense!
The Spy Who Loved Me by Ian Fleming –
Offering a unique perspective within the world of James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me novel diverges from the traditional format by presenting the story through the eyes of a female protagonist, Vivienne Michel.
The narrative unfolds with a captivating blend of suspense, danger, and romance. Vivienne finds herself embroiled in a perilous situation, and James Bond's intervention sets off a chain of events that will test their mettle. With its compelling characters, unexpected plot twists, and exploration of themes such as identity and survival, “The Spy Who Loved Me” is a standout entry among the best James Bond books, according to Dewhurst-Grice.
For Special Services” by John Gardner,
In this James Bond book, our hero takes center stage on a loan to the United States government. Teaming up with the fearless and captivating Cedar, daughter of his old ally Felix Leiter, Bond faces off against a resurfaced nemesis: the infamous SPECTRE organization.
Prepare for a gripping journey as Bond and Cedar navigate through a series of perilous encounters, including a skyjack and a harrowing plunge in an elevator. From the swarms of deadly ants lurking in the American heartland to a spine-chilling ordeal aboard a private monorail, danger lurks at every turn. Brace yourself as our heroes confront the malevolent heir to Blofeld's wicked empire, culminating in a thrilling showdown. Dive into the pages of For Special Services and immerse yourself in the high-stakes world of espionage, suspense, and the enduring allure of James Bond.
Be warned, though, Kingsley Amis disagrees with Matthew. In a review, Amis called this James Bond book “an unrelieved disaster,” Gardner “not the most self-assured of writers,” and said that the plot was “absurd” and “blundering”. Amis said, “What makes Mr. Gardner's book so hard to read is not so much its endlessly silly story as its desolateness, its lack of the slightest human interest or warmth. […] But then, to do anything like that, the writer must be genuinely interested in his material.
By Royal Command by Charlie Higson.
In Higson's James Bond book, readers are transported to the formative years of James Bond's life, often set against a backdrop of danger and intrigue.
By Royal Command marks a thrilling milestone in the Young Bond series, presenting Ian Fleming's legendary superspy, James Bond, in his teenage years during the 1930s. Authored by the talented Charlie Higson, this fifth younger James Bond book takes readers on a gripping journey with our protagonist, James, now fourteen years old. The narrative sweeps across various captivating locations, including the picturesque Alps of Kitzbühel, England, France, Lisbon, and Vienna, where danger lurks around every corner.
First published by Puffin Books on September 3, 2008, “By Royal Command” emerged in hardcover form, shrouding its cover art—featuring a striking black and red Union Jack—until its release day. The excitement continued with the paperback edition hitting shelves on May 28, 2009, treating readers to an additional delight—an extract from the gripping Young Bond short story, “A Hard Man to Kill,” also crafted by Charlie Higson.
The thrilling tale of “By Royal Command” crossed the Atlantic, captivating readers in the United States upon its release by Disney-Hyperion on May 18, 2010. Adorned with captivating cover artwork by Owen Richardson, the U.S. edition ensured that Bond enthusiasts worldwide could embark on this adrenaline-fueled adventure.
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Links and Resources Mentioned on this episode
The Hildebrand James Bond Community – Spybrary approved.
Follow Matthew on Instagram
The Spybrary Online Community – by spy book fans for spy fans.