Joseph Finder is the kind of writer whose books are no stranger to the phrase “instant New York Times bestseller.” His novels, many of which can be loosely described as business thrillers, have been filmed (High Crimes became High Crimes) and won awards (Killer Instinct was judged Best Novel by the International Thriller Writers). Booklist has described his premises as being “irresistible,” his suspense as “frightfully good,” and his pacing as “breakneck.” After eight stand-alone novels, he launched the Nick Heller series with 2009’s Vanished; the second Heller, Buried Secrets, comes out this June. Our own Connie Fletcher, who is one tough critic, called it “a total wow of a read.” We asked Finder to share the best book he’s read in the past year, and here’s what he said.
What is it about British spy novelists? From Graham Greene and Geoffrey Household and Eric Ambler to Ian Fleming, Len Deighton, and John le Carre—for some reason, when it comes to writing about espionage and betrayal, nobody does it better than the Brits. Something about the miserable weather in London, maybe? That whole declining Empire thing? Whatever the reason, the good news is that there’s a new heir to the throne: Charles Cumming, whose latest novel, The Trinity Six, reminds me of those classic Ambler stories about an ordinary man who gets caught up in circumstances beyond his control and must run for his life. Cummins bases his tale on the real-life ring of spies called the Cambridge Five, run by Kim Philby, whose revelation rocked the West during the peak of the Cold War. His hero, a divorced, fortyish academic in dire financial straits, discovers that there may have been an undiscovered sixth mole. And then the real trouble starts. If the spy novel is like a well-loved old leather briefcase that’s seen better days, Cumming—who’s on his way to becoming one of our best spy writers—takes it down from the attic, restores it and buffs it and makes it new again.
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