BIGOT LIST by J. Sydney Jones
BIGOT LIST by J. Sydney Jones
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The Big Thrill Discusses BIGOT LIST: A RECKONING with J. Sydney Jones

Book Cover: BIGOT LIST: A RECKONINGWould you rather be the hunter or the hunted?

That is the choice ex-CIA operative Jake Jacobs, now a comfortable history professor, must make after he discovers his name on an online hitlist. And his choice draws him back into the old game and to a former lover as he fights to stay alive.

Jake Jacobs happily put the wasted years of his CIA service behind him two decades ago. Now a history professor in Oregon, he is at work on a book about a possible mole in the Agency who was never outed. Suddenly, he finds himself pulled back into the secret world when his name and photo, along with those of four others, appears on a revenge site, Reckoning. The site promises vengeance for an op that went sideways in Vienna during the final days of the Cold War.

Ancient history to Jake, who figures someone is trolling him. Until a couple of the online photos are suddenly X-ed out, and he discovers those two, who were also involved in the disastrous op, have been killed. Left on this insider list are Jake; his one-time superior at CIA, Laurence Armitage; and his former adversary, KGB officer Yuri Vosenko.

Jake would rather be the hunter than the hunted and ultimately teams up with his old nemesis, Vosenko, to track down the Reckoning site and whoever is behind it. This takes Jake from the West Coast of the U.S. to the moors of Ireland, to the arms of Tania in Vienna, and to the Alpine passes of Austria in an explosive and emotional journey into an all too real wilderness of mirrors.

J. Sydney Jones recently sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest espionage thriller, BIGOT LIST: A RECKONING.

Author Photo: J. Sydney Jones

J. Sydney Jones

A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?

This book would not leave me–For years I carried around one scene that later took seed and sprouted into this book. One scene in Vienna in 1988 and I had no idea what it meant. But I had three of my major characters in that brief scene. And the inspiration for an entire novel. So, during Covid, I finally sat down and began writing on what turned out to be BIGOT LIST.

Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?

William Boyd is always knocking around in my head, and he has absolutely nothing to do with thrillers. But I take huge inspiration from his writing. Ditto Tony Horowitz.

When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?

Not so much an empty space as reworking in a novel way a trope of someone drawn back in to whatever business/activity/pursuit they thought they had forever cast aside. Jake Jacobs lost his family for the Agency, suffered professionally from this Op that went bad three decades before, but once back in the game, he’s out to make amends. Out to make it count.

In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?

No deep philosophy here. Great action and suspense, and an emotional tug. I hope the love story and the unexpected comradeship at the center resonate as well as the deep feelings of loss of an unexpected friend.

What can you share about what you’re working on next?

Working on the second novel in my BYRNS ON THE HOMEFRONT series, Play It in Between. Series is set on the homefront of WWII in California. First in series out last February, The Cry of Cicadas. Series is reminiscent (I hope) of Foyle’s War, by Tony Horowitz.


J. Sydney Jones is the author of twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, including the 2024 The Cry of Cicadas, and the novels of the critically acclaimed Viennese Mystery Series. He worked and lived in Vienna, Florence, Paris, Molyvos and Donegal before settling in California. His books have been translated into eight languages.

To learn more about the author, please visit his website.