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Great political thrillers set around the world

20th January 2021

Here at TripFiction our database of thousands of books can be accessed by searching for a location, a title or an author…or by literary genre.

One of our genres is political books. And given what has been happening on the other side of the Atlantic recently, we though it might be timely to bring you ten political thrillers. Set around the world rather, than just across the pond….

All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein – WASHINGTON DC, USA

No excuse for including this seminal political story that brought down President Nixon, and was adapted into a classic film, starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.

It began with a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington DC, on 17 June 1972. Bob Woodward, a journalist for the Washington Post, was called into the office on a Saturday morning to cover the story. Carl Bernstein, a political reporter on the Post, was also assigned. They soon learned this was no ordinary burglary. Following lead after lead, Woodward and Bernstein picked up a trail of money, conspiracy and high-level pressure that ultimately led to the doors of the Oval Office. Men very close to the President were implicated, and then Richard Nixon himself.

Over a period of months, Woodward met secretly with Deep Throat, for decades the most famous anonymous source in the history of journalism. As he and Bernstein pieced the jigsaw together, they produced a series of explosive stories that would not only win the Post a Pulitzer Prize, they would bring about the President’s scandalous downfall. ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN documents this amazing story. Taut, gripping and fascinating, it is a classic of its kind — the true story of the events that changed the American presidency.

A Nest for Lalita by Ken Langer – INDIA

Meen Kaul is riding high in her position as director of Behera House, a safe haven in India for women who have survived domestic violence. But when the stock market crashes, Meena loses her funding for a new campus. Seeing an opportunity to win women’s votes before a national election, the Hindu Democratic Party (HDP) steps in with a multimillion-dollar grant.

Meena’s worst fears come to pass as the nationalist Hindu party wins the election and begins to chip away at a hundred years of progress on women’s rights. Meanwhile, Simon Bliss, America’s foremost “green” architect, arrives to design the flagship building of the new campus.

Trapped in a stalled marriage, Simon falls for the bright and alluring Meena and is quickly sucked into the perilous world of Indian politics. In his attempt to loosen the HDP’s grip on Meena and win her affection, Simon spars with reactionary politicians, crooked priests, and sleazy businessmen who will stop at nothing to protect their interests. In the process, Simon comes face to face with disturbing truths about his own past, and Meena finds herself trapped in a way she could have never expected.

Langer has written an emotionally charged novel complete with forbidden love, murder, and corporate greed-all against the backdrop of an ancient country trying to find its identity in a fast-changing world.

Missing by Tom Hauser – CHILE

Thomas Hauser’s book Missing is a true story and Hauser did not do much to novelise the book. Centred on the facts, the book unfolds with the breathtaking suspense and intrigue of a fully imagined political thriller.

Missing explores the fate of young American journalist Charles Hormon, who, living in Chile in 1973 just before the overthrow of the country’s Marxist president Salvatore Allende, discovered evidence of the United States’ involvement in an impending right-wing coup to overthrow Allende. The now-aged general who overthrew the Allende regime, Augusto Pinochet, must face the consequences of his actions. What makes the story of Missing so ultimately frightening is that Hormon was arrested by Chilean soldiers and never again seen alive by his family. It is believed that American operatives had a hand in Hormon’s brutal murder.

Charles Hormon was an American freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker who had traveled to Chile in the early 1970s to explore a country that was undergoing significant changes under the then-Marxist President Salvatore Allende. In the course of his research, Hormon seems to have uncovered information about CIA involvement in a plot to overthrow Allende. In fact, the coup did take place with General Augusto Pinochet taking over as dictator then ordering the mass arrest of thousands of dissidents and opponents. Hormon was one of thousands of people who was dragged from his home. The American Embassy refused any assistance.

It seems that Hormon was murdered by Chilean security police, although this was never publicly acknowledged. Hormon’s father, Ed, a patriotic American businessman, traveled to Santiago where officials of the American Embassy, led by the ambassador himself, offered to help him search for his son–but these same embassy officials knew that Hormon was dead.

Published in 1978, five years after Pinochet took over Chile, Missing is a harrowing tale. It is an explosive story that touches on political matters that are still relevant today. Hauser calmly sets about laying the groundwork for his story, examining both the facts as well as the more mysterious elements of this true story.

The Ghost by Robert Harris – MARTHA’S VINEYARD, USA

‘The moment I heard how McAra died I should have walked away. I can see that now…’

The narrator of Robert Harris’s gripping new novel is a professional ghostwriter – cynical, mercenary, and with a nice line in deadpan humour. Accustomed to working with fading rock stars and minor celebrities, he jumps at the chance to ghost the memoirs of Britain’s former prime minister, especially as it means flying to the American resort of Martha’s Vineyard in the middle of winter and finishing the book in the seclusion of a luxurious house.

But it doesn’t take him long to realise he has made a terrible mistake. His predecessor on the project died in circumstances that were distinctly suspicious, and the ex-prime minister turns out to be a man with secrets in his past that are returning to haunt him – secrets with the power to kill.

The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth – set in PARIS

The Jackal. A tall, blond Englishman with opaque, gray eyes. A killer at the top of his profession. A man unknown to any secret service in the  world. An assassin with a contract to kill the world’s most heavily guarded man.

One  man with a rifle who can change the course of history. One man whose mission is so secretive not even his employers know his name. And as the minutes count down to the final act of execution, it seems that there is no power on earth that can stop the Jackal.

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy – THE ATLANTIC OCEAN

Tom Clancy’s rich imagination and his remarkable grasp of the capabilities of advanced technology give this novel an amazing ring of authenticity. It is a thriller with a new twist, a military procedural with an ingenious, tightly woven plot that revolves around the defection of a Soviet nuclear submarine–the USSR’s newest and most valuable ship, with its most trusted and skilled officer at the helm.

A deadly serious game of hide-and-seek is on. The entire Soviet Atlantic Fleet is ordered to hunt down the submarine and destroy her at all costs. The Americans are determined to find her first and get her safely to port in the intelligence coups of all time. But the Red October has a million square miles of ocean to hide in and a new silent propulsion system that is impossible to detect. Or is it?

Her daring and cunning captain, Marko Ramius, thinks so. The commander of the Soviet’s fastest attack submarine, however, is confident that he will find his prey. And Bart Mancuso, the aggressive commander of the U.S. Navy attack sub the Dallas, is counting on the sensitive ears of his resourceful young sonar operator to identify Red October’s unique sound print and track her down.

The nerve-wracking hunt goes on for eighteen days as the Red October stealthily eludes her hunters across 4,000 miles of ocean. But just short of Ramius’s objective, his submarine converges with the others in a rousing climax that is one of the most thrilling underwater scenes ever written. Can the start of all-out war be avoided? The outcome is clear only on the very last pages.

The Inner Circle by Brad Melzer – WASHINGTON DC, USA

The darkest secret of the U.S. Presidency is about to be revealed. Beecher White, a young archivist for the US government, has always been the keeper of other people’s stories, never a part of the story himself . . . Until now.

While Beecher is showing Clementine Kaye, his first childhood crush, around the National Archives, they accidentally uncover a priceless artefact – a two-hundred-year-old dictionary once belonging to George Washington. Suddenly Beecher and Clementine are entangled in a web of conspiracy and murder.

Beecher’s race to learn the truth behind this mysterious treasure will lead to a code that conceals a disturbing secret from the nation’s founding. A secret that some believe is worth killing for.

House of Cards by Michael Dobbs – LONDON

The bestselling political thriller that introduced the scheming Francis Urguhart – the most memorable politician of the last decade.

Francis Urquhart is Chief Whip. He has his hands on every secret in politics – and is willing to betray them all to become Prime Minister.

Mattie Storin is a tenacious young political correspondent. She faces the biggest challenge of her life when she stumbles upon a scandalous web of intrigue and financial corruption at the very highest levels. She is determined to reveal the truth, but she must risk everything to do so . . .

The Girl from Ha Giang by Martin Love – set in VIETNAM

“The Girl from Ha Giang”, set in contemporary Vietnam, is the story of an exciting journey into the mysterious culture of modern day Vietnam. Marshall McLean, a former American journalist, lands a job at the English-language newspaper in Ha Noi. On an excursion to exotic Ha Long Bay, he meets and is captivated by the mysterious Tao, a young Vietnamese woman who seems to know her way around the expatriate community in Ha Noi and more. McLean soon meets a cast of other characters. He becomes embroiled in a tightening web of intrigue and murder and even confronts aspects of the current Israeli/Palestine relationship to the Far East.

The tale provides an authentic picture of what Vietnam is like almost 40 years after “the War” ended.

Native Speaker by Chang-rae Lee – NEW YORK CITY, USA

Another page-turner in the espionage thriller fold, the Native Speaker is the debut novel and political thriller book by Korean-American writer Chang-Rae Lee.

While the political espionage theme in this fabulous novel functions as much as a metaphor than a plot-twist, it reveals the inner struggles and identity crisis an outsider, a non-native born citizen, endures while trying to assimilate into American life.

The novel follows the life of Henry Park, an undercover agent employed by a disreputable private intelligence company, to infiltrate a political campaign. The internal conflict Park undergoes as he becomes unmoored from his native and adopted culture, his wife, his world, haunt the narrative.

Andrew for the TripFiction team

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