aiken_trilogy_bk_aiken aiken_trilogy_bk_muir aiken_trilogy_bk_bishop aiken_trilogy_mv_spygame
Full Name: Nathan Muir, Tom Bishop, Russell Aiken
Nationality: American
Organization: CIA
Occupation Agent

Creator: Michael Frost Beckner
Time Span: 2001 - 2022


Nathan Muir, Russel Aiken, and Tom Bishop are agents with the CIA.

These are the three main players in the Aiken Trilogy also referred to as Spy Game. Of course, there is yet another incredible adventure by that very name included in that mixture without which the other three actually listed in the Trilogy would be, well, still incredibly good and well worth the reading but nowhere near as enjoyable. Without a doubt, the entire series is best savored when including this fourth (actually holding the second position in the quartet).

The series displays these individuals as making up a fascinating triumvirate. We have an old and some say anachronistic veteran of the spy game, a young-ish newcomer to the business, and someone in the middle who would not mind being thought of as either of the others but knowing he never will be. 

Nathan Muir is without any doubt the most experienced and capable of the three. When we first meet him he is quickly approaching his retirement, forced perhaps by both the system and his own growing lethargy). As we follow him in the next few weeks we also learn that while there are still some who remember just how terrific and skilled he was at his job, his time was during the Cold War when the game was played by individuals in field one-on-one with citizens of foreign lands in their playgrounds and yet he was good enough to make the rules match his agenda.

Now, though, as we meet him, there is a whole new generation wanting the old guard to just go away and let the new guys play with their technologically impressive spy satellites and powerful decoding computers all within the very, very safe walls at Langley - if one ignored the constant in-fighting and back-stabbing that took place there. Muir is well aware that many want his head as a trophy much as the aging gunfighter in the Wild West had to constantly face his share of fast-gun artists wanting a name without paying the normal price.

Tom Bishop was a highly skilled and slightly off-kilter Marine Corps scout and sniper in 1975 when he is noticed by Muir and pegged as a man whose talents lay far beyond his ability with a long-range rifle. Muir would not long after begin the process of recruiting Bishop into the Agency but also teach him and become his mentor. Bishop will not be the first that Muir has graced with his tutelage but he will be the become by far the best.

Bishop is a very handsome, physically fit man who had a winning ready smile and a charm that seemed boundless as well as a terrific eye for talent to bring into the reach of the Agency as assets out in the field. He could wine and dine as was often the case but he could also research and study and find what it was the the prospect really wanted out of a covert relationship. Bishop's biggest weakness, and some would say strength, was that he cared a great deal more for his 'people' than either Muir or Aiken was capable of.

Finally, there is Russell Aiken, a lawyer employed by the Agency who was once thought to be Muir's next wunderkind but who has since lost the look of appreciation and pride that he once thought he saw in Muir's eyes, if he ever really did. Our introduction to Aiken comes when another aged operative is blown up in his boat and Aiken is sent to that fallen agent's own long ago trainee, Muir. The powers that be (or want to be) in the CIA would like as much of the blame put on Muir's shoulders so as to force him out immediately and that meant Aiken had to venture into Muir's lair and much like invading a bear's den is never a good idea, that is the case with Aiken visiting Muir.

As circumstances unfold in the four-adventure set, we find Aiken falling precipitously and then reaching a level of stable but largely insignificant existence at headquarters and then, throw no act on his part being pushed into his own version of the limelight in the last adventure.


Number of Books:3
First Appearance:2022
Last Appearance:2022

The movie mentioned below came first and introduced us to the three players in this series - although Russel Aiken's role is really small and apparently insignificant until viewed again after enjoying the novels.

It takes place after Muir's Gambit and before Bishop's Endgame. In the standard reading/viewing sequence the first book should be read, the movie watched, and the final two books following. I would recommend, however, watching the movie first, reading the first book next, rewatching the movie, and then moving on to the last two books.

Others may seriously disagree and I would not argue (nor would I change my opinion!).

1 Muir's Gambit Muir's Gambit
Written by Michael Frost Beckner
Copyright: 2022

"Charlie March is dead. On a day that promised perfection to the hero of the CIA, an eighteen-minute countdown was all he got to enjoy it once he turned the ignition key and sent an electric spark to his sailboat’s engine…
Deputy Director Harker is exploiting March’s assassination to rid the Agency of Muir—the “Cold War dinosaur” and life-long devotee of March whose brash style of espionage Harker despises.
For hard-luck CIA lawyer Russell Aiken, dispatched to force Muir’s confession, it’s as much an escape as an assignment. On the run from a crime of passion, he’s the protégé Muir cast aside in favor of Tom Bishop. Tormented by Muir’s denial of his ambitions, Aiken thirsts for payback, unaware that Muir launched a different game for him long ago, and he has twenty-four hours to learn its rules, plays, and stakes."
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2 Bishop's Endgame Bishop's Endgame
Written by Michael Frost Beckner
Copyright: 2022

"Ten years have passed since Nathan Muir rescued Tom Bishop from a Suzhou Prison and escaped the CIA for good. Now, all his former agents have suddenly vanished leaving the CIA blinded around the globe.
Then a coded message comes in from Malaysia with astonishing news: a lone spy has survived the mysterious purge. There's just one catch. He'll only reveal himself to the man Langley trusts less and despises more than Nathan Muir: Tom Bishop..."
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3 Aiken in Check Aiken in Check
Written by Michael Frost Beckner
Copyright: 2022

"Haunted by the ghosts of past, present, and future spies, Aiken is trapped in a lethal battle with Havana intelligence officers desperate to discover the CIA's top spy hidden inside Fidel Castro's government.
Aiken must betray Nathan Muir and Tom Bishop—exposing CIA operations that link Cuba, China, and Venezuela in a startling conspiracy—in order to rescue the woman he loves...all in a single night without leaving the hotel room of his interrogation."
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Number of Movies:1
First Appearance:2001
Last Appearance:2001

1 Spy Game Spy Game
Director: Tony Scott
Writers: Michael Frost Beckner, David Arata
Released: 2001

"Retiring CIA agent Nathan Muir recalls his training of Tom Bishop while working against agency politics to free him from his Chinese captors."


There are many hundreds of enjoyable spy series out there to entertain. There are more than a few dozens which are excellent works of fiction that deserve to be checked out. There are a few that are really worthy of being called literature, all without giving up any of the excitement and suspense that one would expect from a thriller. This is one of those select number.

Whether it is Muir's sadly earned cynicism with so much of what he has dealt with, and in many cases actually done himself or it is Bishop's seemingly eternal optimism even in the face of so much disappointment or Aiken's bitterness at never being the person he wanted to be up until he was thrust into that position by surprise ... these are all excellent reads surrounding one of the very best spy movies I have ever watched - and rewatched and ... you get the idea.


My Grade: A+


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