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
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.