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The Double Game

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  1,005 ratings  ·  200 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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Philip Turner
Jul 08, 2012 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
Oct 27, 2012 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
Sep 22, 2012 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 25, 2012 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
Jan 08, 2014 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: fiction, mystery, 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
Aaron Cooley
Apr 08, 2013 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
Dec 04, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: cold-war, spy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 27, 2013 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.)
Lynn Horton
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'd give Fesperman's The Double Game 4.5 stars if I could. I seriously enjoyed this clever book and found myself smiling when I thought about it during the day, looking forward to picking it up again in the evening.

Using classic spy literature, the author constructs a well-woven thriller from a first-person perspective. The non-spy, who's recruited in a most unusual way, shares much about famous literary spies and real-life CIA operatives. Plus, the settings for this book intrigue me; I've been
Mar 24, 2016 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
Toni Osborne
Nov 29, 2012 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
Jan 23, 2013 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 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
Aug 10, 2014 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
Jan 30, 2013 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 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.

Cheryle Fisher
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I have read by this author and found it very well written.
A story about spies and their secrets, fathers and sons, lovers and fate, duplicity and loyalty, The Double Game ingeniously taps the espionage classics of the Cold War to build a spellbinding maze of intrigue.
Jamie Neve
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Overall I found this to be an engrossing book. It took a while to really grab me but the plot moved along well and the references to other spy thrillers made for a fun idea. Having the main character as a 50-something man made a nice change from the usual younger men who are able to muscle their way out of incidents or are experts with an array of weaponry. On the odd occasion, and I can only think of one right now, that he has to take direct action he is genuinely surprised he managed it. The c ...more
Michelle Ule
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
An unusual book choice for me--a spy novel. I don't think I've read one in a generation.

But this is more than a spy novel, it a spy novel about spy novels and includes a dazzling array of references to books of the past, only a few of which I'd read.

Still, it kept me turning the pages--in part because Fesperman describes European cities I've recently visited in a deep knowing way. I'm glad he agreed with my point that Prague looks completely different in 2018 than it did when we both first visit
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a sort of homage to Cold War spy novels. The hero, who had been brought up in various European capitals by a father in the State Department, is sent on a sort of spy mission by a mysterious handler whose messages to him are oblique passages cut from Cold War spy novels that he and his father had read and collected. He isn't sure exactly what the mission is. This reader (and probably most others) felt as confused as the hero does on his quest. I was relieved that there is a comprehensibl ...more
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommend if you enjoy spies, secret European agencies at wartime, etc. Author writes great spy novels and this was my second read - interesting with twists and turns but I think I need to read it again as there were names thrown around (code names as well) which confused me for long stretches, but I was able to still enjoy the read and catch up. This is one you have to pay special detail to, easy to lose you in the names.
Robert Archibald
A well written page turner!

One of the best spy novels I have read in quite a long time. Or is it really a novel??? Lots of twists and turns and colorful characters. Mr. Fesperman is both a good story-teller and a good writer.
Sep 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Too complicated, and by the end, I didn’t care. Very disappointing.
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dober vohunski who-done-it. Knjiga o vohunskih knjigah in zbirateljstvu. O nekdanjih časih za in pred železno zaveso. Dogajanje postavljeno v znane kraje v naši okolici. Zanimivo.
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A comment about another book I read recently serves well here: It works better the less you think about it. However, despite being illogical and contrived at times, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Sep 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Decent spy novel about an American being let on a chase through Europe. Good list of reference for other spy novels.
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Gwen by: mystery book club, November 2018
Shelves: book-club
Not a great book: a thin but strangely convoluted plot (that had so much potential, alas), poor characterization (and terrible treatment of women), and a conclusion that probably was more of a shocker in the past than today (view spoiler).

But Fesperman succeeded in writing a novel that sparked group discussion (not all of it positive...).
Oct 19, 2012 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 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
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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