Best Podcasts for Lovers of Spy Novels

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Are you a fan of spy novels? These stories, the relatives of thrillers and mystery novels, usually involve intrigue, dashing and skillful characters, and really high stakes. The constant tension and the intricate plots are often lauded for their ability to keep the reader hooked all the way to the end. Some say it’s a difficult genre to write in, as you need skills to keep the plot flowing without making it meandering or confusing. The best spy novels are often worthwhile reads, the favorites of a lot of people!

Here at Vurbl, we know you’re always seeking interesting podcasts to listen to. Are there any podcasts about spy novels and writers of this genre? There are a few! Read our list and enjoy the kind of content you won’t find in any other place. We also have recommendations for episodes of podcasts that, although they’re not exclusively about spy novels, have excellent content about this topic. Enjoy our picks and delve into a world of intrigue and thrills!

Relic Radio Thrillers

#1 Relic Radio Thrillers

What a better way to start this list than with a spy novel in podcast form? This is a fiction podcast that specializes in mystery and espionage. The Relic Radio Thriller collects and broadcasts old radio stories from many different sources, introducing you to gems that aren’t shown anywhere else. You can relax and listen – until the gripping tales within make you be at the edge of your seat! The stories the Relic Radio Thriller found for you are an excellent way to spend your evening, and more episodes are broadcasted every week!

The Host: The host’s involvement in this podcast is minimal. Given the focus of the podcast is on the many stories they present, his role in each episode lasts just a few minutes. The host is very effective at getting the listener’s interest, making sure you will want to listen to the tale they found!

The Guests: You could say the actors in each story are the guests of this podcast.

Why You Have to Listen: Have you ever been interested in finding out what old radio plays are like? This podcast holds the answer. The sources are varied: the CBS Radio Mystery Theater, The Man Called X, the Lux Radio Theater, and many other famous broadcasts are featured in this podcast. Thrillers and espionage tales feature heavily; every episode has a new and enthralling story. You will be surprised at the variety you’ll find here – this podcast showcases the richness of the mystery and espionage genres!

What’s even better is that thanks to how popular radio plays were decades ago, there’s plenty of content to be found. There’s a new episode every week, showcasing a new story. If you’re a fan of espionage and thrillers and you enjoy this format of storytelling, this podcast is perfect for you.

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Must Listen Episodes:

Pretty Little Scraps Of Paper by The Man Called X 

The Jailbreak by The Chase 

Rating: +Teen

Spybrary

#2 Spybrary

Spybrary is the quintessential podcast for fans of the espionage genre. This podcast is completely about spy-related fiction; every episode talks about a different spy novel, TV show, or movie – and there’s no shortage of them! You’re likely to find episodes about your favorite novel or movie and discover new ones you haven’t even heard about before. This is a must-listen, no doubt about it.

The Host: Shane Whaley is clearly a fan of this genre of stories. He is enthusiastic about the topic at hand and likes to talk with his guests. His questions and his reviews are on-point and enhance the experience of reading or watching those tales.

The Guests: Something this podcast does well is getting in contact with the right guests. Writers, intelligence experts, spy fans, people with something to say about the genre and the knowledge and passion to entrance the listener and encourage them to delve deeper into this genre. Recent guests include the author and former member of the Intelligence Corpse Rossa McPhillips, and writers Jeremy Duns and Jeff Quest. 

Why You Have to Listen: “By spy fans, for spy fans”. That’s the motto of this podcast, and it fits the content right to a T. Spybrary is a trove of information about the spy genre, a reputable source you can’t brush aside.

As if everything mentioned so far wasn’t enough to prove how important the podcast is to any fan, it also can help you stay up to date with anything from this genre. Reviews from other sources are often mentioned and given the spotlight – with due credit, of course! You will be able to know about recent releases and how good they are and find out all the necessary details without any spoilers that could disrupt your enjoyment. Doesn’t that sound great? Immerse yourself into Spybrary, you won’t regret it!

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Must Listen Episodes

44: Tom Colgan Picks out his 5 favourite spy books 

The Dry Cleaner Short Spy Movie with Chris Carr (89) 

A Small Town In Germany -by John le Carre -Brush Pass (95) 

Rating: +Teen

Dry Cleaner Cast

#3: Dry Cleaner Cast

The Dry Cleaner Cast is a podcast that rarely talks about spy fiction – most of the episodes are about real espionage and intrigue. Non-fiction features heavily, books full of valuable information are the focus of the episode and are often coupled with an interview with the author of each book. That doesn’t mean fiction doesn’t have its place though! You’ll find a few episodes where fiction does appear – but for the most part, this is a podcast where non-fiction takes the spotlight.

The Host: Written, edited, and presented by Chris Carr, just like the introduction says. Chris Carr is an expert in the matter, and also is the creator and director of the movie The Dry Cleaner, a film that will surely catch your interest. With a host like Mr. Carr, you will enjoy espionage, both fiction and non-fiction, to the fullest.

The Guests: Given the focus on non-fiction, most of the guests are experts in espionage. So far, most have been members of important organizations. The CIA, NSA, and other large and renowned organizations are featured here – making each episode something you just shouldn’t miss!

Why You Have to Listen: There’s something about non-fiction that’s so enticing in a way that spy novels often can’t be compared to, and this podcast shows you what it is: the high stakes feel so different when you know it’s all in the real world. That doesn’t mean that fiction doesn’t get its share of love though! The few times novels and movies are touched upon, they receive as much attention as non-fiction.

Every minute of every episode has care put into it, from the introduction that’s both topical and quirky in its own way, to the way Mr. Carr talks to his guests. You can’t go wrong with the Dry Cleaner Cast.

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Must Listen Episodes:

Need To Know – Salisbury Poisoning And Austin Parcel Bombings With Fred Burton 

DDAY75 Submarines & Submarine hunters with Iain Ballantyne 

Todd Leventhal – Cold War Russian Active Measures 

Rating: +18

The Live Drop

#4 The Live Drop

This is another podcast that skews more towards the realities of espionage, but it also does have a few episodes where fiction is the centerpiece. Regardless of what kind of content you seek, the Live Drop will fill your hours with intrigue.

The Host: Host Mark Valley seems to call this ‘a HUMINT experiment’ and ventures into the world of espionage. His charisma and ability to keep the reader’s attention enhances the information and makes you listen all the way to the end of the episode.

The Guests: The guests are a huge highlight of the Live Drop. Experts with in-depth knowledge and authors of books and novels feature in the podcast, giving you a glimpse of the mysterious world of espionage. You shouldn’t miss the anecdotes and information they have for you!

Why You Have to Listen: The world of espionage is often rife with secrecy, and that’s why it’s rare to find podcasts as full of interesting information as this one. You will enjoy every word the guests say, and Mark Valley knows how to hit upon the important information. The combination of expertise at hosting the podcast, and the guests knowing how to impart the data in such a knowledgeable manner makes this podcast a gem you can’t miss!

Those very few episodes that talk about spy novels are just as interesting as those that talk about the realism of espionage, too!

By the way, do you know what HUMINT stands for? It stands for ‘Human Intelligence.’ Given the topics the podcast touches upon, that’s very fitting!

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Must Listen Episodes

Jason Hanson Spy-Maker 

Andrew Bustamante talks Everyday Espionage 

Rating: +18

James Bond Radio

#5 James Bond Radio

Who hasn’t heard of James Bond before? The 007’s name is so well-known even people who aren’t familiar with the espionage genre know about it. Given its popularity, it’s no surprise there are podcasts dedicated only to the most-known of fictional spies. James Bond Radio is the big star in this particular sky!

The Host: There are two hosts actually: Tom Sears and Chris Wright, lifelong fans of the 007. Their love and passion for Ian Fleming’s work are what led to this podcast’s creation, and it stands strong even to this day!

The Guests: Every guest that features in this podcast is deeply involved with the James Bond universe. Have you ever wanted to know more about this canon and what it has to offer? Listen to every word they say and enjoy the James Bond canon to the fullest!

Why You Have to Listen: Thanks to how expansive the canon is, there’s plenty of information. Ian Fleming authored many books featuring the 007, and the many adaptations of his work expand on everything he made. With so much to talk about, it’s no surprise there have been so many episodes so far!

Speaking about the number of episodes, there have been more than 182 episodes in total! That should tell you how in-depth they go into everything 007 related. When it’s about James Bond, Tom Sears and Chris Wright prove to be fans of the highest caliber!

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Must Listen Episodes

#049: Moonraker Reviewed (Part 1) 

#180: The Big ‘No Time To Die’ Delay, Coronavirus & The Return of 007 

Rating: +Teen

Books & Authors

Episodes About Spy Novels

#1 Emma Donoghue, Spy Fiction, Harper Lee’s Unpublished True Crime Novel

The episode name says it all: this episode of the Books and Authors podcast from BBC Radio touched upon fictional spies in general. It was a quite interesting discussion, delving into some rather thought-invoking points. The BBC Radio’s podcasts are often high-quality, and this was no exception!

You will find the relevant section from minute 9:05 to 20:05.

The Host: In this particular episode the hostess’s name is Mariella Frostrup, as this episode is the renowned segment Open Book

The Guest: As usual the BBC invited very reputable sources: a professor expert in spy novels and a prolific author. When it’s about guests, you can be certain the BBC invites only the best!

Why You Have to Listen: The segment analyzed how spy novels have evolved throughout the decades, with a focus on British spy fiction. Fleming’s work and influence in particular was mentioned, given how Fleming’s work is synonymous with British spy fiction. These eleven minutes of discussion will be rather interesting for all fans of spy fiction!

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Rating: All Ages

Spycast

#2 Author Debriefing: Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War

Literature is amazing. Not only it can open entire worlds for you, but it also can show you how our own world would be if some key moments had changed the course of history. Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War shows you a world where World War III happens. How would it go? What kind of events would transpire during such a large-scale war? And, perhaps more importantly for this article, what espionage and thrilling intelligence games could occur? This episode of Spycast is excellent at encouraging you to acquire and read this book.

The Host: Historian Vince Houghton specializes in everything that’s spy-related. His vast knowledge about real spies’ methods and real intelligence games form the soul of this podcast.

The Guest: It’s only fitting the author of such a book is the guest of this episode! PW Singer, co-author of the book, is here to tell you how his book is a worthwhile addition to spy and thriller fiction – and his words are rather convincing!

Why You Have to Listen: Fans of spy novels are always looking for the next book for their to-read list. Thanks to this episode they will add this novel if not buy it right after the podcast is over. Comparisons to Tom Clancy’s early work are made, and the setting described during the episode makes it a truly interesting tale to read.

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Rating: All Ages

Footnoting History

#3 The Rise of the British Spy Novel

Footnoting History is great at getting you interested in history and what it can teach you – and in this episode, they talk about the rise of the British spy novel! This well-researched podcast has some very interesting information that speaks about spy fiction throughout the first half of the twentieth century. 24 minutes of excellent info!

The Host: The hostess’s name is Lucy, with no specified last name. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the way her voice delivers the facts – if you’re listening to this while you work, the way Lucy presents the episode will make you stop and listen.

The Guest: This episode doesn’t have a guest – Lucy will be the one to present all the information in this episode.

Why You Have to Listen: Have you considered how the general atmosphere of the authors’ live influences their writing? Now picture that with several authors at once. That’s what happened with the British spy genre, the anxieties and worries of the time permeated the writing and tales weaved in this genre. Footnoting History will tell you how it happened, their analysis is very thorough and accurate!

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Rating: All Ages

Readers Corner

#4 Award-winning Author Lauren Wilkenson Talks About Her Debut Novel, “American Spy”

This is a debut novel that presents an interesting tale to read about. The Reader’s Corner podcast showcases a variety of books and, this time, it’s time to hear about American Spy. What is it about? Will it set an interesting plot and setting? You can find out in this episode.

The Host: This is the Reader’s Corner with Bob Kustra, hosted by Bob Kustra. He’s excellent at pacing the podcast and talking with his guest, giving the podcast a rather cozy atmosphere. You will really appreciate him.

The Guest: It’s only right the author of the book gets to talk about it! Lauren Wilkinson found great critical acclaim, and now she’s here to tell you some very interesting information about it.

Why You Have to Listen: The way Bob Kustra conducts the podcast is fantastic. Not only he cooperates with author Lauren Wilkinson to deliver the information in a truly captivating manner, but he also is clearly interested in what Lauren Wilkinson has to say. The mark of a good podcast is an interest in what you’re talking about, and Bob Kustra has it in spades!

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Rating: All Ages

Behind the Mask

#5 42 – Espionage

Now, this is a rather interesting podcast. Behind the Mask with Ryan & Tony talks about the villains and bad guys. Given interesting antagonists and opposing forces are essential in a good spy novel, it was inevitable an episode would be dedicated to known villains in the spy genre. You can’t miss this episode, it’s excellent!

The Host: Ryan and Tony have great chemistry. They complement each other rather well and make the podcast feel like you’re sitting with them to a table, having a lighthearted discussion – but of course, interpret that as it having no substance! They put a lot of effort and work on their podcast.

The Guest: There’s no guest in this episode, the hosts are the only ones present here. Given there are two, they’re enough to make the episode feel lively.

Why You Have to Listen: What’s great about this episode is that it doesn’t limit itself to only one villain. There’s a total of four being discussed: Sidney Reilly from Ace of Spies, Blofeld from James Bond, Klaus Fuchs, and Mr. Smith from the Matrix. The variety shows how the guests tried their best to cover as much of the espionage genre as possible, without focusing too much on only one single part of it. We highly encourage you to listen to this episode and find out more about the villains of the espionage genre!

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Rating: All Ages

Book Club for Masochists

#6 Episode 013 – Spies and Espionage

Book Club for Masochists is a personal favorite of mine. This superlative podcast touches several books at once per episode, focusing more on a common thread between them than in going too deep into one single book. In this episode, many novels of the espionage genre are discussed, and what the host had to say will make this an enjoyable time for you!

The Host: The hosts are fantastic. Matthew, Megan, and Anna are excellent hosts, working as librarians in different libraries. The way they interact with each other makes this an excellent book club, with lots of banter and lighthearted laughter. What better way is there to talk about books?

The Guest: Since there are so many hosts in the podcast, there are no guests. All three hosts are enough to fill the episode with a fun and interesting discussion.

Why You Have to Listen: Most podcasts about books focus on one or two books per episode. Book Club for Masochists goes way beyond that. In this episode, they talk about seven books and read four more as preparation, even if those weren’t discussed. Comics are included too, showing how they’re willing to branch onto other forms of storytelling as long as it fits the genre. Their recommendations are spectacular! As a fan of the espionage genre, you will enjoy what they have for you!

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Rating: All Ages

———

The espionage genre of literature is rich and varied. There are so many novels out there you’re unlikely to read all of them in your lifetime, and that’s without including the movies and comics in this genre. Thankfully, these podcasts exist. Their recommendations are a great way to pass the time!

Enjoy what this literary genre has to offer!

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About the author

Summary

Podcasts, audio, writing, and reviews are what Nicolas' life revolves around. At day he searches interesting podcasts for listening and sharing, at night he searches ways to improve himself. Find out about some of the podcasts he has listened to!

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Four years of writing experience have given Nicolas versatility -- and the podcasts he listened during that work made it all rather enjoyable! Now, as part of Vurbl's editorial team, he uses his skills to bring podcasts to the spotlight.

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