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The Double Game

3.35  ·  Rating Details ·  857 Ratings  ·  186 Reviews
A few years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, spook-turned-novelist Edwin Lemaster revealed to up-and-coming journalist Bill Cage that he’d once considered spying for the enemy. For Cage, a Foreign Service brat who grew up in the very cities where Lemaster’s books were set, the news story created a brief but embarrassing sensation and heralded the beginning of the end of ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published August 21st 2012 by Knopf
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Sep 22, 2012 Tony rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
On the strength of having enjoyed Fesperman's debut novel (Lie in the Dark), I decided to pick this new one up to see if should hunt down his backlist. But it's never a good sign when a book lingers on my nightstand once I've cracked it open, and this one lingered for several months, generally failing to draw me into picking it back up. About 3/4 of the way though, I almost set it aside for good, but then like a desperate weekender at the casino, I threw good money (time) after bad and plowed on ...more
Aug 28, 2012 Cynthia rated it liked it
Unlikely Spy

Bill Cage has read all the espionage books. He grew up in Europe during the height of the cold war with his diplomat father so he’s not a foreigner to the concept of ‘tradecraft’ or the techniques of spying though he’s never seriously used them…..until now. After living in the States for most of his adult life he finds himself caught up in a return to Europe on a secret mission. He joins the chase partly for excitement, a little out of curiosity but mostly as a bid for redemption. As
Aaron Cooley
Apr 08, 2013 Aaron Cooley rated it it was ok
A lifelong fan of spy novels is led through Europe by a series of clues pulled right from the pages of his favorite books in Dan Fesperman's THE DOUBLE GAME. If someone left you a riddle written on a page torn from your favorite book, would you drop everything and jet off to Europe? If your answer is a chuckle and a 'No,' then you probably won't make it past the first 50 pages of THE DOUBLE GAME. I applaud the author's intent, but the result is a contrived, laughable exercise that seems to posit ...more
Oct 30, 2012 Ed rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: spy/esponiage fans
Thoroughly entertaining, highly readable modern spy novel with the unique twist that its winding plot involves the works of past spy fiction writers. So, if, like me, you haven't gotten around to reading that many spy novels, this one will introduce you to many of the genre's masters as well as delivering a fun narrative. There's not a lot of gore and blood, but the 53-year-old protagonist is a likeable PR flack from Washington, D.C. who you want to root for to come out successfully. There's a h ...more
Feb 11, 2014 Ms.pegasus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone acquainted with the spy novel genre
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: NPR's Nancy Pearl recommendation
Shelves: mystery, fiction, suspense
THE DOUBLE GAME is a suspenseful spy novel literally torn from the pages of the masters of the genre, Eric Ambler, John LeCarré , Len Deighton and Adam Hall. The main character, Bill Page, is, like his father Warfield, an avid fan of the genre and a collector of first editions. Much of Bill's childhood was spent visiting antiquarian booksellers with his father, and running errands to and from the shops in the great European capitals, Berlin, Prague, Belgrade and Vienna. Bill's father was a caree ...more
Dec 17, 2012 Mike rated it did not like it
Shelves: cold-war, spy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Philip Turner
Jul 16, 2012 Philip Turner rated it it was amazing
"The Double Game" by Dan Fesperman is a great read, the most enjoyable espionage novel I've read in years. It's also a veritable homage to spy fiction from decades past, with lines from earlier novels providing clues and plot points to the unfolding mystery. Terrific dialogue, characters, and suspense. Knopf publisher Sonny Mehta’s letter on the back cover of the galley is the truth: “For anyone who loves a good spy thriller–and who has loved them for years–this will be a treat.”

Update: I finish
Jan 23, 2013 Carl rated it liked it
This book pays specific homage to many of the “spy” authors and thrillers of the last century or so, while trying to be one, itself. As opposed to “techno-thrillers” or the James Bonds of the genre, he emphasizes books based on real spycraft, the imperfect human beings who carry it out, as well as the puzzles they have to solve while trying to figure out on whom they can and can’t rely for honest answers.

Ironically, despite a good but overly complex plot, the premise seems totally unrealistic,
Jim Mullen
Mar 04, 2013 Jim Mullen rated it really liked it
This clever book is a giant wet kiss to the great spy novels of the Cold War by John Le Carré, Len Deighton, Frederick Forsyth, Ken Follett and Desmond Cory. Our middle-aged anti-hero, Bill Cage, grew up in string of European capitals as the young son of a American mid-level career diplomat during the 60s and though once a reporter he now makes a good, but boring, living in PR. Now, in 2010 following some mysterious clues, he revisits his childhood hangouts and slowly realizes that his father wa ...more
May 26, 2016 Isabelle rated it it was ok
I do like the idea of the book itself because it is a book lover's delight... It is a spy novel for spy novel lovers, and our unwilling hero, who grew up on spy novels, finds himself sucked into a dangerous odyssey simply because of the books he loved. That, I liked!
I also liked the layers of secrets, some of them pertaining to the people closest to him, he is finally able to see through. I would have liked to have been afforded some time to understand why our hero has been so blind up to this p
Geo Forman
Feb 03, 2013 Geo Forman rated it really liked it
Not your typical spy novel. Rather an homage to spy novels. A writer, born to a diplomat stationed in Europe, is a lover of spy novels. A love inspired by his dad, a book collector. Now, fifty years later, he is dragged into some sort of intrigue using book excerpts as clues. I love a novel that mentions other novels because I think it implies the author's admiration of those books and are clues to potential future reads. At times, I had to remind myself this was a spy novel. It was more of a my ...more
Dec 08, 2012 Liz rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I was really caught off guard with all the spy book references. By the end, though, It just made you really appreciate the book genre. Imagine my surprise with the extensive list of books at the end!

Quick read. I wasn't totally satisfied with the book but its revelations weren't always predictable. Decent writing.

I'm still trying to figure out why it was given such high praise on NPR.

I would recommend but this is more a summer or winter break read.

Jun 02, 2013 James rated it it was amazing
Shelves: espionage
Befuddling in its complexity but superb if only for its bibliography. 200+ espionage titles there for the finding. (The list is organized chronologically and by author. The former is excellent if you seek Cold War espionage without 21st century Islamophobism.)
Jan 10, 2017 Prescilla rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
I read this for book club, this is my first "spy" novel and I would say it was a bad place to start. The story is confusing, it's hard to keep track of the characters because most of what they talked about happened 30-40 years prior. It was not for me.
Mavis Duncanson
Jan 18, 2017 Mavis Duncanson rated it really liked it
A gripping tale which held my attention right to the final page
Oct 11, 2016 Judie rated it it was amazing
The Double Game is the best espionage novel I've read in a long time and it was great fun. I was sorry to reach the end of it.
Apr 21, 2016 Speesh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The (three now) books I’ve read by Dan Fesperman (The Arms Maker of Berlin, The Small Boat of Great Sorrows) have been excellent and this is no different. If you want to read how this sort of thing is done, read this. Or one of the others.

I’m thinking there’s a general feeling around right now, that spies and spying is/are back. In literary circles as well as real life. With the US President hopefuls and hangers on determined to glorify in their own stupidity (that’s not really relevant, I just
Oct 25, 2012 Stephen rated it it was amazing
The time has arrived when we can do a more balanced review of the spy activities of the United States and it's enemies, post-WWII. And Dan Fesperman is up to the task in his latest thriller...'The Double Game '. The perfect mixture of fact and fiction. Journalist Bill Cage wants to know about master spy , Edwin Lemaster who turned into a master writer of spy novels , after he left ' The Company '. Since his interview of Lemaster, years ago, he is more intrigued than ever. Bill's Dad ,Warfield w ...more
Nancy McKibben
Oct 27, 2013 Nancy McKibben rated it really liked it
Shelves: suspense
The Double Game
By Dan Fesperman

For anyone who loves spy novels, this book is too much fun. As a young journalist, Bill Cage, who grew up in Cold War Europe under the tutelage of his father, embarrasses the colleague of his father in a published interview. As a result, Bill’s journalism career hits a wall and he reluctantly turns to PR to make a living.

Twenty years later, Bill begins receiving notes hinting that he should follow up on that embarrassing story - perhaps the family friend was, in fa
Toni Osborne
Jan 08, 2013 Toni Osborne rated it really liked it
“The Double Game” is a thrilling old-school espionage novel with roots stemming from other authors works of art. The storyline is sprinkled with famous names such as John le Carre, William Buckley and many others. The plot is intellectual and action driven and mirrors what the layman perceives as the work of real spies such as the CIA during the Cold War Era. It plays on the idea that a best-selling novelist was actually a CIA agent deeply embedded with the KGB of the time. With skillfully devel ...more
James Korsmo
Jan 13, 2013 James Korsmo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, espionage
Dan Fesperman has delivered an engaging spy novel that uses an outstanding recipe for success, mixing together equal parts of international intrigue, mysterious plot developments, shady characters, and old spy novels. This novel is especially enjoyable for those who love spy novels. The plot centers on Bill Cage, a journalist turned PR executive, who finds himself unexpectedly caught up in intrigue right out of the pages of a spy novel. And, in fact, that turns out to be literally true. Cage use ...more
Lee-anne Coombe
Sep 15, 2016 Lee-anne Coombe rated it liked it
A very different book to read, sometimes battled to go back to it and at other times couldnt put it down. I moved from being frustrated with trying to tie the story together and being intrigued as to where it was all leading. Was worth perservering in the end.
Apr 01, 2013 Alysia rated it really liked it
I haven't read many true spy novels, but I love a good mystery. I read a review of this that intrigued me so I began. I was hooked with the first sentence in the precaution. "I no longer believe what I read in books."

This is a great story of spying and duplicity that uses a bibliophile's love of books to hook the reader of the tale, and also uses that love of books to hook the protagonist in his tale. The refernces to other spy novels and people are vital to the plot, I didn't recognize many of
Jun 27, 2014 Silvio111 rated it really liked it
This spy "thriller" is a love letter to the spy fiction genre. The author embeds references to dozens of real spy thriller authors, and a fictional one figures prominently in the plot.

He skillfully threads quotations and characters from these novels into the unfolding mystery that his protagonist must solve. It is clever and kind of charming, if you love books.

I would say that the first third of this book has fantastic suspense and momentum. Somewhere around halfway through the book, I began to
C.S. S Bernhardt
Nov 18, 2012 C.S. S Bernhardt rated it really liked it
In 1984 young reporter Bill Cage interviews American espionage agent turned novelist Edwin Lemaster. After a few drinks, Edwin implies he considered working for the Soviet Union. That revelation led to Bill's journalist career dying before it began.

Over two decades later, Bill accompanies his dad a retired diplomat to the funeral of a CIA agent. Just after the funeral, Bill receives an anonymous letter encouraging him to follow up on information he didn't get back in 1984. This will give him
Judith Baller-Fabian
Apr 06, 2015 Judith Baller-Fabian rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
Dan Fesperman is one of my favorite authors and I have read all of this books. The Double Game would have fascinated me if I were a spy novel buff but I'm not. For anyone who enjoys spy novels, I recommend it as a must read. As he writes, there are two types of spies: the any-man, who stumbles into a situation and somehow survives and solves the problem, the other is the sort of cynical, old timer, who knows what he's doing and follows the leads to the end, with a rather world-weary attitude. Of ...more
Dec 24, 2012 Ashley rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book from Knopf Publishers through a first reads giveaway, thank you!

I must preface this review by saying this is the first spy/espionage novel I have read.

This book was well written, the story is interesting, the details are great, I just don't think this genre is for me (at least in book form). The beginning of the story started out a little slow, some of the tangents felt really unnecessary, a lot of the lengthy details about the plethora of books felt unnecessary as well. Thi
Jill Elizabeth
Dec 04, 2016 Jill Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
I LOVE spy books - old-school, Cold War, spy books... There's something pure, almost clean, about the battle between good and evil, us and them, that they encapsulate. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, there really isn't a "them" anymore - the lines between good guys and bad guys are blurry and vague and there isn't a singular enemy you can point to anymore. With the exception of Terry Hayes' extraordinary "I am Pilgrim", I haven't enjoyed anything in the spy genre written since the early 1990s ...more
May 05, 2013 Monica rated it liked it
Four stars for the skill with which this book incorporates elements from over 100 years of espionage fiction into a contemporary plot. Bill Cage is a former journalist turned PR man after his credentials got pulled in Prague decades ago. Like his father, a retired Foreign Service employee, Bill collects signed first editions of spy fiction. When someone starts using pages of these treasured first editions to send Bill on a series of tasks that echo events in the books, it starts to get really co ...more
Dec 20, 2012 Danny rated it liked it
This book is meant to appeal to the spy novel aficionado, which I am not, so I don't know how successful it is on that front.

A spy novel-obsessed former journalist begins receiving instructions from a mysterious source. The clues, laden with references to his favorite books, lead him to Europe and a life he thought he'd left behind. While growing up with his diplomat father he was used to living in various capitals of the old world, and imagining spies around every corner. The deeper he delves,
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Dan Fesperman’s travels as a writer have taken him to thirty countries and three war zones. Lie in the Dark won the Crime Writers’ Association of Britain’s John Creasey Memorial Dagger Award for best first crime novel, The Small Boat of Great Sorrows won their Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for best thriller, and The Prisoner of Guantánamo won the Dashiell Hammett Award from the International Asso ...more
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