The Best Spy Novels Written by Spies, According to a Spy
It’s a perennial question: do spies write the best spy novels? It’s the business of secrets, after all; you can’t help but wonder how much authors get right. Surely, the only authentic spy books are the ones written by people on the inside, right? As a retired intelligence professional and a published novelist, and now the author of a spy novel, I’m here to set the record straight: Even when you’ve been in the espionage business, it’s hard to write a good spy novel. The heart of a good spy novel is not the caper but the personal or moral issue facing the protagonist. In a nutshell, that is the spy business, particularly on the clandestine side. You’re constantly asking yourself, am I doing the right thing? Do the ends justify the means? If I do this questionable thing, what does it mean about me as a person? The best spies—like the best people in general—question themselves. Test their motives. And try to hold themselves accountable. Because—like Spiderman—spies have great power, and with great power comes great responsibility.
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