Best books… Chris­tian Jen­nings

The au­thor and for­eign cor­re­spon­dent Chris­tian Jen­nings se­lects his six favourite thrillers. His lat­est book, Flash­point Tri­este: The First Bat­tle of the Cold War, is avail­able from Osprey at £20

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The Day of the Jackal by Fred­er­ick Forsyth, 1971 (Ar­row £7.99). The best thriller of the last 50 years tells the story of the English as­sas­sin who tar­gets French pres­i­dent Charles de Gaulle. At­mo­spheric, ac­cu­rate, tautly writ­ten, it has de­fined the genre ever since.

City of Thieves by David Be­nioff, 2008 (Scep­tre £8.99). Len­ingrad 1941: a Rus­sian soldier and a looter are spared ex­e­cu­tion and given an im­pos­si­ble mis­sion. In a starv­ing city, they must find eggs for the wedding cake of an of­fi­cer’s daugh­ter. The pi­caresque quest that fol­lows is ter­ri­fy­ing, sad and funny.

Blood of Vic­tory by Alan Furst, 2002 (Wei­den­feld & Ni­col­son £8.99). A Rus­sian émi­gré writer, re­cruited by Bri­tish in­tel­li­gence in 1940, must stop cru­cial Ro­ma­nian oil reach­ing the Third Re­ich. In the dark world of wartime Europe, the mis­sion falls apart in a way only Furst could in­vent.

The Quiet Amer­i­can by Gra­ham Greene, 1955 (Vin­tage £8.99). An Amer­i­can ide­al­ist, a Bri­tish for­eign cor­re­spon­dent and a young Viet­namese woman star in this in­tri­cately lay­ered tale of love and war, in which Greene fore­saw the Amer­i­can de­ba­cle in In­dochina.

The Cal­cu­lus Af­fair by Hergé, 1956 (Eg­mont £7.99). The 18th in The Ad­ven­tures of Tintin se­ries is a su­perb Cold War thriller. Tintin must save his friend Pro­fes­sor Cal­cu­lus from kid­nap­ping by two das­tardly, myth­i­cal coun­tries, Bor­duria and Syl­davia. Rarely have the Balkans been so well, and so satir­i­cally, por­trayed.

Naples ’44: An In­tel­li­gence Of­fi­cer in the Ital­ian

Labyrinth by Nor­man Lewis, 1978 (Eland £10.99). Although non-fic­tion, Lewis’s de­scrip­tion of his time as an Eighth Army of­fi­cer serv­ing among the des­per­ate pop­u­la­tion of wartime Naples de­serves thriller sta­tus.

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