Your weekly briefing from the HQ of secrets

Spy vs spy

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, unfolds against a backdrop of baccarat, bombs and Beluga caviar, with disguise, electronic snooping, gadgets, hacking and polonium-210 poison as your tools. Welcome to the world of espionage, where no trap is as deadly as the one spies lay for one another.




The 'microdot' spy

Spymaster Georg Nicolaus smuggled US intelligence to the Nazis during World War II. His preferred method? Microdots loaded with photos and documents that were as small as the period at the end of a sentence, hidden in objects as innocuous as dolls.




Not Blofeld but blowfish

Netflix’s filming of the Three-Body Problem in China is turning into a real-life mystery. The series’ executive producer Lin Qi has reportedly died with at least five types of poison in his blood, including mercury and tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin found in pufferfish.




Clandestine gadgetry

Whether you’re gathering intel or whispering a secret password, spy gadgets can help your mission. From night-vision binoculars to thermal imaging smartphone cameras, check out the best spy-gizmos of 2021.




Dark forces

Sergei Lebedev writes terrifyingly about Russian retaliation against critics. Untraceable is an extraordinary metaphysical spy novel by a Moscow-born poet hailed as ‘the best of Russia’s younger generation of writers’.





Kill or be killed

Assassination is one of the oldest tools of the trade - whether it is a poisoned umbrella tip or a spritz of Novichok to a door handle. The death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half-brother at Malaysia’s airport may bring the art to a whole new level, however. Assassins is the story of two young women who said they were filming a YouTube prank show when they smeared a VX nerve agent across the face of Kim Jong-nam. Are they trained killers or pawns in a deadly game? 




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