Title:                      The Dream Merchant of Lisbon

Author:                Gene Coyle

Coyle, Gene (2004). The Dream Merchant of Lisbon. Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Corp.

OCLC:    0592584

PZ7 .C88 2004


Date Updated:  March 23, 2015

The Best Spy Novels

This book is from a list I obtained from Nigel West. Nigel West is an author specializing in security, intelligence, secret service and espionage issues. He is the European Editor of the World Intelligence Review, published in Washington DC, and the editorial director of The St Ermin’s Press. In 1989 he was voted “The Experts’ Expert” by The Observer. He writes regularly for SpearsWealth Management Survey and works with The Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies. He judges this book as one of the best spy novels

Nigel’s comment: “A CIA station chief negotiates a KGB defector, written by a senior retiree.”

CIA officer Shawn Reilly recruits foreign officials to spy for the United States. He thinks of his job as selling dreams to people who need money, need their egos stroked or want revenge on their bosses or government. After spending many years in the hellholes of the world, he has wound up in the twilight of his career in Lisbon, Portugal where he faces a “by the book” boss, a crumbling marriage and Boris, the chief of the Russian intelligence service in Portugal who is likewise targeting Shawn. At the same time, the Libyan intelligence service is trying to lure a Central Asian chemical weapons specialist to Libya and the Russian service is on the tail of the Kazak scientist. Boris’ attractive daughter, visiting from Moscow, is swept up in the plots within plots, where as in the real world of espionage, all is not necessarily as it first appears. The various threads of intrigue come together in Lisbon. In addition to performing his professional duties Shawn is forced to face the question for an aging spy of just what really matters in life – one’s duty or love. The Dream Merchant of Lisbon goes into the minds of the major players to explore the psychology of espionage, based on the author’s true life experiences in that shadowy world.

Other books listed by Nigel West as among the best spy books are:

Ambler, Eric (1939). The Mask of Dimitrios

Coyle, Gene (2004). The Dream Merchant of Lisbon

Follett, Ken (1978). The Eye of the Needle

Forsyth, Frederick. The Day of the Jackal.

Furst, Allan. The Nightwatch. Considered by American intelligence insiders to be impressively authentic.

Greene, Graham. The Human Factor. An SIS officer’s troubled conscience leads him to become a mole. Written by Kim Philby’s close friend and wartime subordinate

Higgins, Jack. The Eagle Has Landed. A German spy is planning to assassinate Winston Churchill at an English country house. Untrue, but nevertheless, compelling.

Le Carrè, John. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. An atmospheric tale of Cold War betrayal in Germany written by an SIS officer who served there under consular cover.


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