Owen Matthews

Why the Greeks invented virtue

I had a good talk with my NBF, Owen Matthews, at The Spectator’s writers’ party, and we agreed on the two subjects we talked about: Russia and women. I won’t exaggerate the enormity of our aggregate knowledge – and the way we have deployed it in our service, especially where the fairer sex is concerned. Suffice to say that it is far beyond the comprehension of most individuals who concern themselves only with money. Speaking of loot, I have a gent’s bet with a friend that Sam Bankman-Fried of FTX infamy – accused of having stolen billions while attempting to recover his financial blunders – will get away with a

Espionage dominates the best recent crime fiction

The best espionage novels cater to our fantasies while still persuading us of the authenticity of their worlds. Of the titles published this year, two stand out in the field, and each author understands that, in fiction, veracity is not the same as authenticity. In Hemingway’s words: ‘All good novels have one thing in common. They are truer than if they had really happened.’ An extended chase, beginning in Siberia, is a kind of Russian version of The Thirty-Nine Steps White Fox (Bantam, £18.99) is the concluding volume of a trilogy of thrillers by Owen Matthews, one of the best of many western writers on Russia. It can happily be