“The best puppets don’t know they have strings.” So says the iconically code-named spy in James Grady’s Last Days Of The Condor (No Exit Press, £8.99), the recently released sequel to his classic spy thriller, Six Days Of The Condor. The world has changed over the 40 years since the Condor last surfaced and, while others have used his cover, the original is still around. Older but not necessarily wiser, he is troubled by gaps in his mind and the ghosts of his past. When he once more becomes the target of faceless and seemingly infinite assassins, he must go on the run and try to unravel the mystery of who wants him dead and why.

The action is fast and furious, the machine-gun prose forcing the reader to proceed at a breathless pace. Themes of fractured identity and the search for personal coherence are reflected in the whirlwind action; the conspiracy that fuels the plot is a fragmented and vapour-like thread that only comes into sharp focus as the book hits its jaw-dropping climax.

Decades after the original, there is every danger that Grady could have written a novel trading on past glories, but here, in a world of constant surveillance through cellphones, Facebook, credit cards and so much more, our hero finds himself in greater peril than he’s ever been. Punchy and powerful, the Condor remains the king of spy protagonists, even after all these years in the cold.

Secrets and deception are not only the purview of spies, as Linwood Barclay’s latest thriller, Broken Promise (Orion, £18.99), makes clear. After being forced to move, with his young son, back to his parents' place in Promise Falls after a failed attempt at life in the big city, reporter David Harwood finds his luck going from bad to worse. And then a simple errand throws him into a shocking web of lies, deceit and murder. His cousin Marla recently miscarried her child, but when David takes her some of his mother’s chilli as part of the family’s efforts to help her cope, he discovers she is caring for a recently born baby. Marla claims the baby was delivered “by an angel” but says no more than that. David follows what clues he can to a house across town, but when he arrives, he discovers that the child’s mother has been been murdered. Is his cousin responsible? And how does this connect to a number of other mysterious incidents in Promise Falls?

Broken Promise smoothly combines a page-turning Harlan Coben pace with a Jeffery Deaver-esque twist. There’s even a hint of classic Stephen King in the presentation of an American small town with disturbing secrets. Barclay’s evocation of middle-class America and the frustrations of a man forced to return to his roots form the heart of this cleverly constructed mystery that amply demonstrates why Barclay is one of the biggest-selling US writers of crime fiction. The first chapter may read simply “I hate this town”, but readers will be seduced by the dark heart of Promise Falls.

There is domestic darkness of a different kind in The Father (Sphere, £14.99), the first in a sequence of novels by co-authors Anders Roslund and Stefan Thunberg, writing under the pen-name Anton Svensson. The duo take their inspiration from Thunberg’s own family; his brothers were one of Sweden’s most notorious criminal gangs. The story sticks relatively close to the facts, while taking a few dramatic liberties here and there. The book’s depiction of the police investigation is perhaps the weakest thread, with one particular leap of logic on the part of the detectives seeming a little too convenient. But the emotional centre of the story, detailing the fraternal and paternal relationships of the bank robbers, is truly compelling.

Roslund previously demonstrated his thriller-writing chops in collaboration with Börge Hellström, but here the added authenticity of working with someone so close to the source material results in a more urgent and affecting atmosphere. The writing is spare and lean, reminiscent of Richard Stark’s Parker novels, but the sweep and scope are epic. The drama often lies in what isn’t said, and the family dynamics are at once familiar and terrifyingly alien. The Father is a promising start to what could be one of the most fascinating new series to emerge from the booming Scandinavian crime scene.