Herbie Kruger Books

The Name “Herbie Kruger’ refers to a series of spy thriller novels written by John Gardner. The books follow the exploits of a master spy struggling to survive in an era that believes him to be outdated.

Order of Herbie Kruger Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 The Nostradamus Traitor 1979 Description / Buy
2 The Garden of Weapons 1984 Description / Buy
3 The Quiet Dogs 1988 Description / Buy
4 Maestro 1993 Description / Buy
5 Confessor 1995 Description / Buy
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John Gardner wrote the Herbie Kruger novels back when his star was still rising, the result of his work on the James Bond franchise. With the first of the Herbie Kruger novels eventually released in 1979, it was inevitable that Gardner’s protagonist, also a spy, would be unfairly compared to James Bond.

And, indeed, the author’s success with Bond eventually overshadowed the Herbie Kruger novels despite the quality of storytelling contained within them. Herbie Kruger is first introduced to readers in The Nostradamus Traitor when a woman comes looking for the remains of her husband, a man who was accused of spying in WWII and eventually executed.

Kruger takes an interest in the case and his investigation reveals an outlandish plot the British used in the Second World War to sow discord amongst the Nazis, a plot whose repercussions for British Intelligence have unfortunately born unexpected fruits.

It is only natural to compare Kruger to Bond. The fact that Bond set the standard for the spy craft in literature means that every literary spy created afterward will always be compared to him.

However, at a glance, Herbie Kruger couldn’t be more different from Bond. The Master spy is a little too large, and he always seems to lumber, too careless in the way he walks. Boasting a face with one too many lumps, and a grin that he just won’t let slide, Herbie’s physical appearance always drives his critics and enemies to underestimate him.

It isn’t until one watches him operate that they notice the intelligent, charming personality hiding behind the amusing, possibly even irritating façade Herbie portrays to the outside world.

A native of Germany who spent his teenage years working as a spy in the refugee camps on behalf of the Americans, Herbie got his start in espionage when his American employees gave him to British Intelligence, impressed by his ability to assimilate into difficult situations.

As an adult, Herbie’s mastery over the German and English languages made him an essential component of the British Intelligence machine. By the time the Herbie Kruger series begins, Kruger has spent two decades as a competent spy during which he crafted an extensive spy Network spanning several European countries.
As the 1980s approach and the Western landscape changes, Kruger struggles to identify his place in the world of espionage. For all the experience he has accrued over the years, the bumbling agent is slowly but surely being made irrelevant by the emergence of a new crop of young spies.

Herbie Kruger Awards

The first and second novels in the Herbie Kruger series were nominated for a Gold Dagger Award.

John Gardner fans believe that Herbie Kruger is a competently written spy that belongs on any list of the greatest spies in literary fiction but who has gone largely unnoticed and unappreciated, with some of the best novels in the Kruger series including:

The Garden of Weapons: Herbie Kruger lives in a world of lies and he knows it. There is no place for ideals like honor or even love in the field of espionage. For a spy, every emotion, every shred of decency is merely a tool through which information can be gained.

Kruger said as much to a KGB defector he broke. Now he must pay the price that such a life demands. The spy network Kruger created in East Berlin a long time ago has now exposed the men and women who trusted him to trouble, and Kruger can do nothing to help them.

Quiet Dogs: Kruger might look like a fool but he is actually one of the best agents Britain has. And he proves as much when the KGB capture him and he escapes. But once he returns home, Kruger realizes that his capture did more damage than he could have imagined.

His friends and colleagues now think that he’s compromised and it will take every skill Kruger has mastered to escape the wrath of the British Intelligence machine.

Other Book Series You May Like

The “Joe Wilderness” Series by John Lawton is another great read. Joe Wilderness was a WWII Orphan and criminal who, through a series of unexpected circumstances, became a spy. Now, no matter how hard he tries, Joe cannot seem to escape the clutches of MI6.

Be sure to check out the “Thomas Kell” Series by Charles Cumming as well. Tom Kell is a disgraced spy that MI6 keeps dragging back into the fold whenever they have an impossible mission to complete, a mission with grave consequences for his home country.

What Is The Next Book in The Herbie Kruger Series?

There doesn't seem to be an upcoming book in The Herbie Kruger Series. The newest book is Confessor and was released on November, 30th 1994.

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