Best of 2020

With all the disruption of this past year, things have been a bit quieter on the site than normal. I’ve been focusing on podcasts over some of my longer written pieces which has taken a healthy chunk of time. That said, the year did have some highlights and in what is becoming a yearly tradition I’ll focus on some of my favorite things I’ve read or wrote over the past year.

Podcasts – I started Barbican Station, a podcast dedicated to the works of Mick Herron. I’ve recorded shows looking at nearly all of Herron’s previous Slough House novels and in 2021 I look to record episodes looking at his newest novel, some of his earlier work, and the new SLOW HORSES tv show.

Beyond that, I recorded several podcasts for Spybrary. I interviewed Shane about how he started Spybrary, talked to Jeremy Duns about spy novel titles, interviewed Antony Johnston about his spy novels, spoke with Josh Pachter about the short story magazine Espionage, and interviewed Joseph Oldham about his book Paranoid Visions. There are a few episodes I’ve already recorded and am looking forward to more appearing in 2021.

Khurrum Rahman – One of my most pleasurable discoveries this year was Khurrum Rahman’s wonderful spy novels set in London’s Hounslow. Extra credit goes to the narrator of the audiobooks, Waleed Akhtar, who really breathes life into the character and adds to the fun of the story. I can’t recommend this trilogy enough. His latest was Ride or Die and I look forward to what Rahman has up his sleeve next. My reviews are here and here.

John le Carré – As always, John le Carré looms large on this blog. Some of my favorite posts this year have related to his work. I wrote and talked about some of the book titles he thought of using as well as dedicated my silliest, but also my favorite post, on one of the least important accolades that le Carré ever received. Finally I wrote about the time le Carré met the famous mystery novelist Rex Stout.

All of that was overshadowed by the news that David Cornwell, otherwise known as John le Carré passed away in December. I wrote about his passing and influence on spy fiction here.

The SPY GAMES Reality Show – In the simpler times of January/February of 2020 I had great fun recording episode recaps of the reality game show Spy Games. The show was flawed but fun and I had a great time talking through all the episodes with Matthew Bradford of the site Double O Section. Fingers crossed we get a second season someday.

So it’s a shorter list this year, but that just give more to look forward to in 2021!

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