Russians are hot in the publishing world these days, and leading the pack is â€œA Legacy of Spiesâ€ by John Le CarrÃ©, his first George Smiley novel in 25 years.
The latest book finds Smiley protege Peter Guillam retired from the world of spies, enjoying some rest and relaxation on a farm in southern Brittany. But his Cold War past gets dredged up again as he and other colleagues are called back to London to account for past misdemeanors, actions taken during a time when the methods used against the Soviets mattered less than winning the ideological war.
Other recent and upcoming diplomatic thrillers â€” and youâ€™ll know one when you see it: blocky font, red type, Kremlin on the cover, hammer and sickle optional â€” include â€œThe Defectorsâ€ (Atria, out now) a page-turner by Joseph Kanon involving the KGB, the CIA and two American brothers caught between the two; and â€œThe Shadow Listâ€ (GP Putnamâ€™s Sons, out Tuesday) by Todd Moss, formerly the top American diplomat in West Africa, which deals with a Nigerian e-mail scam, a married couple that works for the US State Department and the CIA, and a Russian master criminal nicknamed The Bear.
But the Russian page-turner that should be on everyoneâ€™s list isnâ€™t out until January: â€œNeed to Knowâ€ by Karen Cleveland (Ballantine, out Jan. 23), written during her maternity leave from the CIA, is a fast-paced thriller about a CIA analyst tasked with uncovering a Russian sleeper cell in the US â€” when she discovers something that threatens to destroy her family.