Spooked by Barry Meier The secret rise of private spies book review Duffythewriter

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist’s revelatory look inside the sinister world of private spies.

A spy story like no other. 

Private spies are the invisible force that shapes our modern world: they influence our elections, effect government policies and shape the fortunes of companies. More deviously, they are also peering into our personal lives as never before, using off-the-shelf technology to listen to our phone calls, monitor our emails and decide what we see on social media.

Spooked takes us on a journey into a secret billion-dollar industry in which information is currency and loyalties are for sale. An industry so tentacular it reaches from Saddam Hussein to an 80s-era Trump, from the Steele dossier written by a British ex-spy to Russian oligarchs sitting pretty in Mayfair mansions, from the devious tactics of Harvey Weinstein to the growing role of corporate spies in politics and the threat to future elections.

Spooked reads like the best kind of spy story: a gripping tale packed with twists and turns, uncovering a secret side of our modern world.

Duffy’s thoughts on Spooked by Barry Meier

I was eager to read this after enjoying Catch and Kill. The rising world (or underworld) of private spies, hackers, and influencers is intriguing. Private agencies popping up with the sole goal to assassinate characters, take down presidents and affect change on a global scale. It’s the stuff of movie thrillers that has become a real-life cat and mouse game.

Barry Meier is one hell of a journalist and writer. The fact-checking and timelines are overwhelmingly accurate. The flow of each chapter ties together and builds as he reveals how these private ‘ spies for hire’ agencies get started, all with details and backstories of the main players in this dark space. Unscrupulous moves are uncovered, and you get a window into the world of the employees of these agencies. The lengths they go to dupe celebrities, businessmen and politicians to retrieve the information they are paid to get is mindblowing.

It’s cold and calculating work.

I found myself intrigued by Spooked at the beginning. However, once I got to the halfway mark, I did find myself getting a little bored and over the egos of all these powerful middle-aged white men f*cking each other over and sharing information in exchange for money and other information.


However, the overall premise of the book, the great journalism and the unnerving nature of this new, growing and shadowy industry will delight anyone who’s into spy games or the infamous Trump Dossier. It’s heavy in the detail and the nature of those involved means Spooked is heavy on the ego too.

spooked book by Barry Meier book review
Spooked is available now from Booktopia and all good book stores published by Hachette RRP $32.99

Read Duffy’s other Spy themed book reviews!