During lockdown I’m sure many of us have turned to television, films and books to distract ourselves. I have a fondness for thrillers and espionage, so I have recommended some entertainment that will get your hearts pulsing and always has a twist.
True Spies – Podcast
This is a podcast narrated by Hayley Atwell, acting as interviews with former real-life agents. It follows their experiences in agencies such as the CIA and FBI across the globe, in many different departments such as disguise, counter-terrorism and ‘spy catching’. The episodes come out every Tuesday and recent additions include the tale of the capture of Pablo Escobar, the story of the hunt for a notorious FBI mole, as well as one episode concentrating on the life of a KGB agent when he has become too embedded in US life. What is striking is how surprisingly clichéd all of these stories are; the kind of thing you see in films but doubt would actually materialise in real life. That is what makes the podcast so unique and fascinating.
Restless – Novel & TV Series
One of the best thrillers I have ever read due to it’s fast-paced nature and the interweaving of past and present, making it extremely gripping; I demolished this in less than twenty-four hours. The novel follows Ruth, a single mother who lives a mundane life teaching English. She finds her mother becoming very tense and when Ruth prompts her for the reason, her mother produces a manuscript detailing the life of Eva Delectorskaya, her mother, Sally Fairchild’s true identity. The novel is then concerned with Eva’s life as a British spy in the Second World War, following her recruitment through to her trip to Mexico that goes very wrong, prompting her to flee. Slowly, we are fed the threads of her story as Ruth finds them out too, changing her perspective on her own life. This novel was extremely engaging and an easy read, with the plot not being dragged out exponentially.
Killing Eve – TV Series
This is, without a doubt, the most well known section of this article, but for good reason as I can not recommend it enough. The series follows Eve Polastri, an underdog in MI6 who becomes intertwined with the killings of a mysterious assassin. This narrative plays out in a parallel way to our exposure to the assassin, Villanelle, and we witness their paths tangle as they meet up throughout the show. There are already three seasons, so this is ideal for a binge. The show is highly addictive, with drama and a fast-paced nature interspersed with black comedy, causing it to go even further up in my estimation!
And Then There Were None – Novel
Although written by Agatha Christie and therefore more a mystery novel, I would definitely say that this doubles as a thriller and is one of Christie’s more unnerving works. It follows a group of seemingly unconnected guests who become trapped on a secluded island because of a storm. Slowly, they are picked off one by one without knowing who is next and who to trust. There is also a miniseries, which premiered in 2015 and has been praised and rated highly for the writing, performances and cinematography.
Glorious 39 – Film
Glorious 39 is set in the summer of 1939 and investigates the complex attitudes towards the growing certainty over war and the lengths people will go to to achieve appeasement. It follows Anne Keyes, the adopted daughter of Sir Alexander, a prominent MP, who slowly uncovers a plot which puts her in great danger. This film has an all star cast, including Bill Nighy, David Tennant, Eddie Redmayne and Julie Christie. Although the writing occasionally falls flat in the film, it is fast-paced and gripping with a compelling plot and setting, with Romola Garai performing excellently as the protagonist. It’s the kind of film that makes you want to research the background more.
The Secret History – Novel
This is less of a mystery as the other ones happen to be, but certainly is a thriller. The novel is in the form of an inverted detective story and follows the narrator, Richard Papen, as he details the events that led their elitist group of Classics students at an American university to murder their friend Bunny. The novel explores the devastating impacts that this death has on their circle and sways towards an investigation of dark academia. It is a fascinating novel; although none of the characters are particularly likeable, their world is intoxicating, especially through Tartt’s intriguing writing style.