Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Unlikely Spy” as Want to Read:
The Unlikely Spy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Unlikely Spy

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  15,889 Ratings  ·  623 Reviews
The Unlikely Spy
Mass Market Paperback, 752 pages
Published May 6th 2003 by Signet (first published December 24th 1996)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Unlikely Spy, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Unlikely Spy

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le CarréTinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick ForsythThe Bourne Identity by Robert LudlumThe Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
770 books — 853 voters
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréThe Bourne Identity by Robert LudlumThe Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le CarréThe Hunt for Red October by Tom ClancyThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
Best Spy Novels
866 books — 1,605 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 08, 2012 Belinda rated it really liked it
Spy novels are not books that I usually read, but this one is engaging and I enjoyed it. It really is a historical novel, I guess, because the facts about WWII on which the book is based are true. It certainly is more interesting learning about WWII by reading this novel than a history book! The story line was based on the preparations for D-Day and the building of an artificial harbor from concrete that was floated across the English Channel so when they landed at Normandy, they would have a ha ...more
I must admit that I really wanted to like this book. Despite its faults, I was going to give it four stars, but the ending of it left me quite unfulfilled. Here are some of the biggest problems I have with it:

1) Implausibility. (a) A van drives through a blacked-out village in a rainstorm at night. A man opens the door of his house and sees that a man is driving the van and a woman is sitting next to him. How can he see that in those conditions? (b) Small spoiler warning: A teenage girl falls in
Zohar -
May 25, 2010 Zohar - rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009
Disclaimer: I'm a sucker for WWII and / or spy books

Before I start - this is not a "Gabriel Allon" book as mentioned on Amazon's book title.

"The Unlikely Spy" is a fast paced page turner, set mostly in days preceding the Normandy invasion in WWII. The story's unlikely hero is a university professor named Alfred Vicray who was recruited by none other then Winston Churchill himself to work for the British MI5.

Vicary is a spy catcher - he does his job well until realizing that a small group of G
Nov 17, 2015 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great debut novel. It could have been a complete mess in the hands of a lesser talent.
The espionage story is set against the real story of the preparations for what was to be the D-Day invasion and the extreme actions on both sides to conceal and expose the plans for the maneuver
that everyone knew was coming.
The characters are incredible and the suspense is taut throughout. As you're reading, you need to decide who is the most unlikely spy!

The game itself is summed up in this exchange
Aug 07, 2012 Merilee rated it really liked it
I've read and enjoyed a few of Silva's books before, but they have all starred his Mossad agent/art restorer, Gabriel Allon. This book is not part of the Allon series, but nonetheless a well-written historical thriller about all the information and disinformation leading up to the Normandy landings. We listened to it in the car on 15 disks!

The Unlikely Spy is a spy novel written by Daniel Silva, set during World War II, and published in 1996. While some of the exact characters and events may be
Rich Sanidad
Jan 09, 2014 Rich Sanidad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I started this book, I was hoping for a small break from some of the non-fiction I had been reading. I was looking for a thriller in the same vein as Robert Ludlum or David Baldacci. Instead, I got a history-heavy suspense novel – and I didn’t mind one bit.

The author’s challenge in this book was trying to maintain a level of tension to hold the reader’s interest, even though the ultimate outcome of the story was well known (the Germans were unprepared for the Allied invasion at Normandy; if
Este foi o 1º primeiro livro que experimentei do autor Daniel Silva, e gostei bastante. Prendeu-me desde o principio, fiquei logo fascinado e intrigado com uma espiã alemã e também em relação aos outros espiões. Todos sabemos acerca do Dia D, o ataque dos Aliados na Normandia que contribuiu para acabar com a 2ª Guerra Mundial. Mas a questão central do livro é: como é que os Aliados enganaram os Nazi? Como os fizeram convencer que o ataque seria em Calais em vez na Normandia? Os espiões alemães e ...more
Dec 02, 2014 GymGuy rated it it was amazing
I'm going to give this 5 stars with reservations. It is certainly a book that anyone who is a spy/espionage enthusiast should have read, or at least have on their to-read list. It is a masterful work of historical fiction. It shows a great deal of research and actual historical detail. That being said, it is a very long least by my standards. At times it tends to get bogged down in detail and side-story. One of its greatest strengths is its detail in creating characters, which ironical ...more
Paulo Cunha
May 04, 2012 Paulo Cunha rated it it was amazing
Este livro foi-me oferecido, nunca tinha lido nada de Daniel Silva e inicialmente fiquei de pé atrás, porque eu gosto mais de livros de Romance Histórico, e este parecia-me um livro mais dentro do policial, no entanto a medida que fui lendo comecei a gostar do livro, porque fala de factos históricos misturados com ficção com um enredo interessante e muitas intrigas e ligações intrincadas entre os personagens. O livro desenrola-se na 2ª Guerra mundial, mais propriamente nos preparos para o dia D, ...more
Jan 16, 2009 Jane rated it really liked it
After I read Moscow Rules, I checked Silva out and went back to the beginning of his career to start with this one. It takes place in World War II and we'd just seen the Tom Cruise movie so this fit right in with what was on my mind. Fascinating plot, lots of violence, perfect book for my husband, who enjoyed it after I did. I liked it too. Since it takes place in England, it took me back to my stay there many years ago, and the references to Suffolk made me homesick for Great Bealings, Woodbrid ...more
Mar 20, 2013 Flo rated it liked it
I picked this up by chance at my used book store. I don't like Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon thrillers so at first didn't even look at this, but when I saw it was a WW II thriller about German spies in England I bought it and was pleasantly surprised. He's no Alan Furst but the plot is strong, the characters well drawn and except for one or two errors (his lady spy uses liner on her eyes which I'm sure didn't exist in 1944--at least they didn't call it liner then. It was probably cake mascara pai ...more
Ana Silva
Aug 21, 2015 Ana Silva rated it really liked it
*forever thanking my crazy book fair shopping for more than 1 of his books* From not knowing his writing, to one of my favourite autors

At first I wasn't really convinced, but as I kept on going, I couldn't put it down. 200 pages until the end and I was feeling anxious for having so little left to read. 4,5 just for not getting me from the start and for naming a portuguese man Hernandez
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
I was slightly disappointed with this one. Too long, but then I read this in the hospital - I fractured a hip and just got home, today.
Jun 19, 2016 Tim rated it did not like it
I'm gonna keep this short. I despise this long, boring snore of a story. 0 of 10 stars
Fred Shaw
Sep 25, 2016 Fred Shaw rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Unlikely Spy" is one of the best if not the best spy novel I've read. Daniel Silva craftily selects a university professor of European history as his protagonist, the Unlikely Spy. He's brilliant and turns out to be up to the task. Historically based, the story moves between various locations in the UK and Germany during the build up to the Allied Invasion of WW II. MI5 and 6 stop at nothing to keep the location for D Day secret including the deception of their own teams, and likewise the A ...more
Kevin Allmaras
Sep 30, 2011 Kevin Allmaras rated it liked it
A very long and tedious read. Some interesting material and names involved in this book. A spy novel based in Britain of 1944. The author brings in MI5 to hunt down German spies on English soil during WWII. The Allies are preparing for D Day and are developing a plan to help set up the attack in Normandy. The English have rolled up virtually all the spies the Germans and Admiral Canaris, the leader of the Abwehr had tried to plant in England from 1940 and on. Now MI5 has become aware that there ...more
Mar 23, 2015 Ob-jonny rated it it was amazing
Such an entertaining and addicting book based on a true story. The world of spies during WWII is an aspect of the war that I had never really heard anything about. It was fascinating to learn about the intellectual confrontation between the strategists among the Americans/British and the Germans concerning the invasion of France. It was a psychological game for the Allies to try to deceive the Germans and for the Germans to be able to tell if the other side would use deception. The obvious way t ...more
Feb 10, 2014 Marion rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I liked many aspects of this book. I really enjoyed the descriptions of life in England during WWII - rendered with vivid detail. Learning about spy craft during that era was also very interesting. I had vaguely remembered that the Allies had tricked the Germans into thinking that the invasion was going to take place at Calais. So learning many of the details of the planning made the book particularly engaging. I was going to give the book 4 stars until things began to unravel for me in the end. ...more
Apr 22, 2013 Jim rated it it was amazing
I last read a Daniel Silva spy-thriller in May, 2012. As the cliché says, “So many books; so little time!” I just finished his mammoth (724 pages) first WWII thriller THE UNLIKELY SPY (ISBN 978-0451209306, paperback, $9.99). The story takes place in the U.S., U.K. and Germany from the late 1930s to the landings in Normandy. Some of the characters are real (Winston Churchill and German spymaster Admiral William Canaris). Most are not. Silva has been favorably compared to Ken Follett and Robert Ha ...more
Rob Savidge
May 06, 2013 Rob Savidge rated it really liked it
Excellent book. This was my first Silva novel, and he certainly didn't disappoint. This is a standalone spy novel set in WWII. He does an excellent job of setting the atmosphere, and provides a clear image of what life was like during the end of WWII in both Britain and Germany. I find that era fascinating given the emerging technology. What I never realized prior to reading this, was the importance that England's MI5 (Counterintelligence, as opposed to MI6's intelligence/espionage), and overall ...more
Mar 02, 2016 Robert rated it it was amazing
Totally excellent. Five stars is hard to reach...

Long without being boring. Believable. Meticulous research. No one was too much of a hero or stereotype.

Some delicious parts of this book involve how it leaves you wondering. There are hints of a greater game than the piece you get to see. That gets resolved at the end, but not quite. It was unclear what role the "Broom" character played and whether he too was a double agent, or perhaps a triple. Basil Boothby too made me wonder to whose allegian
Like the old adage went: All is fair in love and war. But all bets is off, when it's World War Two. From USA to England and Germany in Europe, that's a way brewing between Hitler and Churchill in this historical espionage thriller. This has a little bit of everything for a good thriller to get you hooked and caught up in the action. The Unlikely Spy is about one female spy who changed everything for war and risked her life--and her heart. Catherine Blake isn't your ordinary woman. It's just a ru ...more
Feb 07, 2008 Bill rated it it was amazing
What makes the perfect novel? Great plot, interesting characters, and expert pacing should pretty much do it.
The Unlikely Spy is one of the best reads I've had in a while. The story is very similar to The Eye of the Needle.
In fact, I've seen some complaints from people accusing this as nothing but a cheap clone of Follett's classic.

I think The Unlikely Spy was far superior, in terms of evoking the time and place of Britain during WWII. I felt I could really visualize the blackouts (or not visua
David Seller
I found this book not dissimilar to the Vincle Flynn genre. The CIA agent protecting the USA. Michael Osbourne is hunting down a Russian asassain who has a unique signature who is suspected to be behind the downing of a civilian aircraft.
The plot broadens as it reveals that there may be some behind the scenes wheeling and dealing which helped the president achieve reelection. Osbourne is also under pressure from his wife who wants him to stay away from danger as they are trying for a child toge
Mar 19, 2014 Kat rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-mystery
Wonderfully written book with an authentic historic feel. The intrigue and suspense were well-paced. I see the mark of a good book as being one you think about when you must set it down for our worldly obligations. This one fit the bill.

I also greatly appreciated that some of the "villains" were complex and dynamic. Often, especially in relation to Nazi Germany, the villains are paper thin depictions of all that is evil. While some of the characters in this story fit this bill, they were usuall
Lily Mulholland
Aug 31, 2010 Lily Mulholland rated it it was ok
Shelves: spyfi
Hmmm, when a book is 576 pages long, it would be a good idea to ensure more than 100 of them are page-turners. Gosh, what a lot to learn from a debut novel! Some of the things I learned are: repetition is death (I counted three instances of characters standing 'still as statues'; clunky metaphors are death (see previous comment); one-dimensional characters are totally boring - as a reader I couldn't care less about any of them; wrapping the convoluted plot up with a ribbon through lengthy exposi ...more
Tipico romanzo “da ombrellone”. Una spy-story di genere classico, con diverse esagerazioni, ma tutto sommato leggibile. O almeno così mi è parso nel 1998. Difficilmente lo riprenderei in mano adesso.

Ogni tanto mi chiedo cosa avrebbe pensato Winston Churchill se avesse saputo che, in futuro, sarebbe stato usato così tante volte come personaggio che muove le fila delle diverse storie di fantasia narrate nei film e nei romanzi. L’avrebbe gradito oppure avrebbe avuto uno dei suoi famosi attacchi di
Paulo Pires
Este romance �� o primeiro que li de Daniel Silva. Aborda a segunda guerra mundial, numa perspectiva dos subtis jogos de bastidores dos espi��es. Onde de ambos os lados se joga com informa����o e contra informa����o. Conseguiu-se criar uma envolvente repleta de mist��rio e expectativa. �� interessante como nos transporta e nos envolve at�� ao ��ltimo momento. Explica-se perfeitamente a raz��o porque foi um best seller do New York Times. Se acrescermos o facto de o autor tem ascend��ncia portugue ...more
Mary Ann
May 29, 2015 Mary Ann rated it really liked it
Excellent spy thriller. I was glad I read it on kindle so I could use the character reminders, there were a bunch to keep up with. Once I got into it and got everyone's motives figured out (lots of double agents and deliberate subterfuge) the story flew. A slice of WWII history I didn't know much about--the lead up to d-day and how the allies kept it secret--was really fascinating. Multi-faceted characters and lots of interesting historical tidbits. Good stuff!
Jane Kirkpatrick
Sep 05, 2013 Jane Kirkpatrick rated it really liked it
As always Daniel Silva weaves a credible story of intrigue, political motivations, wrapped around the intimacy of death and war. I'm always amazed at the complexity of his plots and that his characters are so well developed that despite there being dozens we know them whenever they arrive on the scene and see their changes as a natural part of the journey. This is the fourth Daniel Silva book I've read. I'll be reading them all
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
You'll love this ...: The Unlikely Spy Buddy Read 15 32 Mar 08, 2014 05:28PM  
WW2 Spy Novels group 1 19 Feb 24, 2014 02:06PM  
  • The Runner
  • Black Cross
  • The Fist of God
  • The Arms Maker of Berlin
  • A Gathering of Spies
  • Stettin Station (John Russell, #3)
  • A Gathering of Saints
  • The Charm School
  • The Faithful Spy (John Wells, #1)
  • Kingdom of Shadows (Night Soldiers, #6)
  • Brandenburg
  • The Miernik Dossier (Paul Christopher #1)
  • 27
  • Assignment in Brittany
  • The Berlin Conspiracy (Jack Teller, #1)
  • The Eagle Has Flown (Liam Devlin, #4)
  • The First Commandment (Scot Harvath, #6)
Daniel Silva was born in Michigan in 1960 and raised in California where he received his BA from Fresno State. Silva began his writing career as a journalist for United Press International (UPI), traveling in the Middle East and covering the Iran-Iraq war, terrorism and political conflicts. From UPI he moved to CNN, where he eventually became executive producer of its Washington-based public polic ...more
More about Daniel Silva...

Share This Book

“patriotism. During his lifetime of study he had concluded it was the most destructive force on the planet.” 2 likes
“They sat in an awkward, embarrassed silence for a moment, the way Englishmen are apt to do after sharing private thoughts.” 1 likes
More quotes…