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Reading list: Women of Intelligence

Created by: Themis-Athena's Garden of Books

In tune with the 2018 BookLikes "Summer of Spies" and my "Women Writers" project, a few books on spies and spying written by women ... and a few books on woman spies written by men.

ETA: Now also my list for 2019 "Summer of Spies Redux", combined with "Around the World in 80 Books".

Books: 26

The Moneypenny Diaries: Guardian Angel - Kate Westbrook
The Moneypenny Diaries: Guardian Angel
Note: 007, from Jane Moneypenny's POV.
Above Suspicion - Helen MacInnes
Above Suspicion
Note: "The Queen of Spy Novelists" -- or so they call her. With reason.
Prelude to Terror - Helen MacInnes
Prelude to Terror
Note: 2019 addition: Robert Renwick, book #1.
Mystery: Agent in Place / The Hidden Target / Cloa... - Helen MacInnes
Mystery: Agent in Place / The Hidden Target / Cloak of Darkness
Note: 2019 addition: Robert Renwick, books ##2 and 3, plus a standalone ("Agent in Place").
Secret Asset - Stella Rimington
Secret Asset
Note: Book no. 2 in the Liz Carlyle series -- book no. 1 is "At Risk". I liked it.
Illegal Action - Stella Rimington
Illegal Action
Note: ... and book no. 3 is as good as its predecessors ...
Open Secret: The Autobiography of the Former Direc... - Stella Rimington
Open Secret: The Autobiography of the Former Director-General of MI5
Note: ... as is Rimington's autobiography.
Dead Line - Stella Rimington
Dead Line
Note: 2019 addition: Liz Carlyle #4.
The Lifeline - Phyllis Bottome
The Lifeline
Note: The author -- and the book -- that inspired the James Bond novels.
The Traveller Returns - Patricia Wentworth
The Traveller Returns
Note: Added at Tigus's suggestion, and what a good suggestion it was!
They Came to Baghdad - Agatha Christie
They Came to Baghdad
Note: Pass the gin. (Also: strictly on audio.) ... Or so I thought. Actually, this turned out surprisingly entertaining!
N or M? - Samantha Bond, Agatha Christie
N or M?
Note: Not the best of Christie's spy fiction (surprisingly, even when compared with "They Came to Baghdad", above), but bearable, and it definitely benefited from the audio abridgment ... and from being narrated by Samantha Bond.
Black Roses - Jane Thynne
Black Roses
Note: An English actress in early 1930s Berlin, infiltrating the social circle of Magda Goebbels: surprisingly well-researched and well-executed.
The Cutout - Francine Mathews
The Cutout
Note: An alternative post-9/11 Germany (and Eastern Europe) -- not half as well realized as Jane Thynne's 1930s Berlin in "Black Roses" (above).
Who is Vera Kelly? - Elisabeth Rodgers, Rosalie Knecht
Who is Vera Kelly?
Note: A misfit, from Bethesda, MD, to spying in Argentina.

Thanks for the recommendation, Mike (audiobookjunkie)!
The Assassins - Gayle Lynds
The Assassins
Note: Judging by the blurbs, most of Lynds's books don't appeal to me, but this one sounds like it might.
Blowback - Sarah Lovett, Valerie Plame Wilson
Note: First in the series -- OK, though not great (but it got better towards the end). I may give the series another shot, but probably not very soon.
Fair Game: How a Top CIA Agent Was Betrayed by Her... - Laura Rozen, Valerie Plame Wilson
Fair Game: How a Top CIA Agent Was Betrayed by Her Own Government
Note: Plame Wilson's autiobiography, OTOH, somehow reads more timely than ever now.
The Spy - Paulo Coelho
The Spy
Note: Mata Hari
A Woman in Arabia: The Writings of the Queen of th... - Georgina Howell, Gertrude Bell
A Woman in Arabia: The Writings of the Queen of the Desert
Note: Adventurer, intrepid traveler ... and spy! (Another 2019 addition to the list.)
The Many Faces of Josephine Baker - Peggy Caravantes
The Many Faces of Josephine Baker
Note: Working with the French Résistance was just one of Josephine Baker's many occupations and faces.
Belle Boyd - Ruth Scarborough
Belle Boyd
Note: The Confederate spy whom Southern newspapers alternately celebrated as "Joan of Arc of the South", "Siren of the Shenandoah", and "Cleopatra of the Secession".
Nancy Wake: SOE's Greatest Heroine - Russell Braddon
Nancy Wake: SOE's Greatest Heroine
Note: An Australian in the French Résistance. The Nazis called her "The White Mouse", due to her nimbleness and skill at evading capture.
The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the ... - Peter Finn, Petra Couvée
The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book
Note: Well, look and behold what updating my personal library data has produced ... I didn't even remember this was on my TBR! But how can this possibly *not* be on my "Summer of Spies" reading list?
The Scarlet Pimpernel - Emmuska Orczy, Gary Hoppenstand
The Scarlet Pimpernel
Note: Honorary mention: Perhaps not a spy novel as such, but the mother of all swashbucklers -- written by a woman, and starring a power couple specializing in infiltrating the enemy's side every which way and then some.

"They seek him here, they seek him there ..."
I Will Repay - Johanna Ward, Emmuska Orczy
I Will Repay
Note: (... and for an encore ...)


Murder by Death
No Helen MacInnes? Have you read her work? If you did, did you like it?
Themis-Athena's Garden of Books
She's at no. 2 on the list -- I've limited it to 1 book per author, except where there's both a memoir and a fiction title. Haven't read anything by MacInnes yet, so I'll be curious about this one.
Murder by Death
omg... obviously I wasn't awake yet.... sorry. :P
Themis-Athena's Garden of Books
No worries, I completely missed a comment on BT's "Summer with a Side of Spies" list the other day, too (late in the evening my time). I'm sure there's a lesson in there somewhere, just can't put my finger on it ... :D
Themis-Athena's Garden of Books
Edited the list to add "The Zhivago Affair" -- a nonfiction spy story (co-written by a woman) involving a literary classic? That book *so* belongs here ...


Summer of Spies Women Writers Mysteries and Crime Fiction Biographies Memoirs Spies


Adventure Classics Non Fiction Biography History Historical Fiction Mystery Detective Espionage Thriller Crime Biography Memoir

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