Admitedly, I don’t read a lot of fiction – most of my reading is non-fiction but if you want some airplane pop-fiction reading that doesn’t completely insult your intelligence, check out Daniel Silva‘s series on Isreali spy/assassin Gabriel Allon.
You can actually start out with any of them as each book is pretty much a new episode/assignment, while there is some alluding to previous assignments, it’s usually a minor part of the current book/assignment.
Unlike many other pop fiction writers in the genre, he writes complete characters (even minor ones) that are instantly believable and real without resorting to treacly clichés. And unlike the biggest bane of most fiction writing today, his women characters are real and love/sex scenes seem real and true versus someone cribbing hokey adverbs from a romance novel. And lastly, he places his characters and situations that are plausible and unfold in a realistic manner. He is a former journalist so it all feels topic and real. It’s not literature but it doesn’t insult your intellegence so you are not forced to invoke the best Truman Capote review-insult quote ever, “That’s not writing, that’s typing,” (and yes, I’m talking to you Raymond Khoury).
The Gabriel Allon series is actually not Silva’s first – his first was a CIA operative which are okay – I didn’t find those nearly as interesting but if you have a couple long flights and you want to pass the time without having to watch BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE 2 … twice, the first of that series is MARK OF THE ASSASSIN and it’s also solidly done. His first novel is also worth reading, AN UNLIKELY SPY. It’s set during WWII but Silva does a nice job in transporting us there with realistic characters, situations and believable dialogue – there has been no follow-up to that novel.
Note – personally by book #5 of the Gabriel Allon series (PRINCE OF FIRE), I felt he was repeating himself a bit but if you liked the first 4, you’ll probably want to read them to see where the character goes … the 7th book, SECRET SERVANT is not due out until this July. The Gabriel Allon books in order are: