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Agents of Treachery (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original) Paperback – June 1, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original
  • Paperback: 429 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; First Printing edition (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307477517
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307477514
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #872,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Astonishingly, as mystery maestro Penzler points out in his cogent introduction, there has never been, until now, a collection of original stories devoted to spy fiction. Penzler has assembled 14 of the biggest names in the thriller genre—such as Lee Child, Joseph Finder, Stephen Hunter, Gayle Lynds, and David Morrell—who all rise to the challenge of writing a short story set in the complex world of international espionage. This unique anthology's best entry, Charles McCarry's The End of the String, which depicts an intelligence officer's role in a planned coup aimed at a despotic African president-for-life, will evoke comparisons with John le Carré and Graham Greene. The superlative writing is matched by the variety, which ranges from tales with clever twists to straightforward ones, some contemporary, others with historical settings. (June)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Spy fiction and short stories are usually mutually exclusive. As editor Penzler points out in his introduction, spy fiction is usually lengthy, as the authors weave byzantine plots bolstered with double crosses, red herrings, and dozens of characters. Tough to fit all that into a few thousand words. He also points out this is the first anthology of original short spy fiction. The 14 authors include Lee Child, James Grady, Stephen Hunter, Andrew Klavan, and Stella Rimington, who was the director-general of Britain’s MI5. Child’s story centers on the particulars of assembling a special-ops team. David Morrell weighs in with the moral and professional dilemma of Andrew, a professional CIA interrogator who ultimately succumbs to . . . well, that’s the surprise. Stephen Hunter contributes a WWII tale in which love and a Mata Hari–like character play key roles. Charles McCarry introduces readers to a mysterious man on the Guinea coast in the fifties who assists an American agent and may have questionable motives. Espionage fans will absolutely love this collection of uniformly fine stories—a series of 500-page spy novels expertly distilled to their involving, suspenseful essence. --Wes Lukowsky

More About the Author

Otto Penzler is the proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop (www.mysteriousbookshop.com) in New York City and is regarded as the world's foremost authority on crime, mystery and suspense fiction. He founded The Mysterious Press in 1975, which he later sold to Warner Books (1989). He reacquired the imprint in 2010 and it now publishes original books as an imprint at Grove/Atlantic, and both original works and classic crime fiction through MysteriousPress.com (www.mysteriouspress.com), in partnership with Open Road Integrated Media.

Penzler is a prolific editor, and has won two Edgar Awards, for Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection in 1977 and The Lineup in 2010. The Mystery Writers of America awarded him the prestigious Ellery Queen Award in 1994 and the Raven--the group's highest non-writing award--in 2003.

Customer Reviews

In many of the pieces, there was a stunning amount of accuracy in the plots and characters.
LVT06
I bought this collection of short spy stories because it featured some of my favorite crime/thriller/spy writers as well as a few I hadn't come across yet.
Joseph Michael
I'm not sure that's true but then again I can't think off the top of my head of another collection so maybe he's right.
James N Simpson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Swystun on October 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Let me start by saying - if you love thrillers, especially spy thrillers - buy this book. The editor has collected deeply layered and entertaining stories by some of the best in the business. I already look forward to re-reading it. Among my favorites are McCarry's The End of the String which brings to life a humble spy and an intriguing African dictator, Child tells the story of a black op with a twist, Weisman's Father's Day is a heart pumping ground-pounder, Morrell's The Interrogator lays bare human morality, and Klaven's Sleeping with My Assassin is an incredibly intriguing premise. But all of the stories were strong which is no surprise given the authors including Finder, Hunter, Wilson, Fesperman, and Steinhauer.

Most striking for me is the difference between the Cold War tales and those that deal with the current threats of today. The Cold War activities seem almost quaint when compared with the direct, less subtle tradecraft used in an era of global terrorism. Lynds' story, Max is Calling, sums up the difference in this passage: "The days are over of putting on your tux for an embassy party every night to try to get buddy-buddy with some East Bloc official so you can convince him his ideology sucks and he should play on our team. Now you've got to infiltrate the tenements, the mud huts, the terrorist cells."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Julia Flyte TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a collection of fourteen original short stories written by some of the best thriller writers in the business, including Lee Child, Joseph Finder, Charles McCarry, Olen Steinhauer and Stella Rimington. They span a range of timeframes and countries, from 1940s Switzerland to the current war in Iraq.

The standard is somewhat uneven. I thought a few of the stories were outstanding, some were just good and a few left me cold. I enjoyed the way that each one reflected the author's writing style and I look forward to exploring some of the authors whose work was previously unknown to me.

Stand-outs for me included Charles McCarry's account of an African dictator which was reminiscent of the film The Last King Of Scotland. The characters are so well developed that they really come alive. Joseph Finder writes a very accessible and clever story about a man who harbors suspicions about his next door neighbors. John Weisman writes about a CIA agent on the frontline in Iraq, working for a boss who values climbing the ladder ahead of retrieving hostages.

Lee Child's story was probably the biggest disappointment and I wondered if it was included for the value that his name adds to the collection rather than on its own merits.

Overall a mixed bag, but with some stand-outs that made it well worthwhile.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James N Simpson on December 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is collection of short stories which revolve around the spy and that type of espionage. Interestingly Otto Penzler claims in the introduction that this is the first collection of this type of short story. I'm not sure that's true but then again I can't think off the top of my head of another collection so maybe he's right. There are some big name authors of novels contributing to this collection, do they all write as good a short story as they do a novel? Some do, some don't. Overall I think the collection passes the time but there's not really any masterpieces you'll be thinking about years or even weeks after you've read them. The format of this collection is a bit weird too, there's a contents page which lists the stories and their page numbers, but each author isn't named. Nor is there a copyright page doing this either. Initially I wondered if this was one of those guess who wrote what story collections, but the authors are named on the first page of each story.

Even though each story has never before been published. Depending on when you are reading this review they may well have been published in something you have read.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. M. VINE VOICE on February 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
...Paul believed, though he had no evidence of it, that other spies did not suffer from this. But evidence holds little sway over belief, and so it was for him...."

Death, or at least the threat of it, motivates some crucial aspect of each of the original stories contributed by various prominent mystery and thriller writers. But many other themes give this collection dimension: love, loyalty, intrigue, politics, betrayal, redemption, subterfuge, war, sacrifice, and futility. Otto Penzler edited this anthology which includes spy tales by Olen Steinhauer, Andrew Klavan, Joseph Finder, Lee Child, and Dan Fesperman.

Lee Child's "Section 7(A) (Operational)" describes how "the team first came together late one Tuesday evening in my apartment." Child adds, "I had none of them, and then I had all of them." He proceeds to describe the men and women who would 'be going into action" -- including the traitor, who "like all traitors...would be motivated by either ideology, or money, or blackmail." This gathering of operatives is really a prelude of sorts. It isn't a story so much as a clever compilation of characters, and it that shifts from one reality into another in the conclusion. It is a writer's preparation, a writer's gathering of a cast for possible future use, a writer's staging...

And that brings me to a reader's observation about anthologies like this and this one in particular. Sometimes, especially when contributing authors are well known, one can feel that they wrote their portions with a sense of obligation but not necessarily ringing inspiration. Put another way, some writers focus more on their next novel than they do on a short story for a paperback. Or, they use the short story as groundwork for longer fiction.
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