The Secret World by Peter Deriabin & Frank Gibney (Doubleday, 1959)
Peter Deriabin defected from the Soviet Union in 1954, after having worked his way up through the Army into counterintelligence (SMERSH) and eventually into the KGB. This book, on the surface, is about his journey from loyal Communist Party member to Defector.
More than that, it is a series of examples of the oppression facing citizens of the Soviet Union. While the specific anecdotes now have the weight of history upon them, the mechanisms behind the stories continue to be used today. Deriabin cites specific ways in which people were systematically monitored and repressed by the state, and he gives multiple examples of the crippling societal results of following socialist economic theory.
The autobiographical aspects of the book keep it engaging, but what makes it stand out are those examples. Deriabin isn’t merely detailing his troubles, he is explaining to the readers how rampant similar troubles are.
The book serves as a solid compliment to Kasparov’s Winter Is Coming, detailing from within the Soviet mentality and its development into the current Russian philosophy as epitomized by Putin.
The Monster Hunter Files ed. Larry Correia & Bryan Thomas Schmidt (Baen, 2017)
The Monster Hunter, International novels read like a cross between the Bureau 13 novels of Nick Pollotta and military-themed thrillers. The creatures are present in force, with different styles of monster present throughout the world. There is a lot of gunplay, with accurate depictions of weaponry. For those so inclined, think Vampire$ by John Steakley (filmed as John Carpenter’s Vampires) but with far more antagonists than simply vampires.
As with the B13 books, the heroes of the Monster Hunter series range dramatically in their abilities. Some are imbued with mystical powers. Some are detectives. Some are combat masters. The variety works well against the multitude of things they’re fighting, and allows for engaging interplay between the characters.
It also provides a perfect setting for other authors to use. In this case, more than a dozen authors ranging from Jim Butcher and John Ringo to Maurice Broaddus have stepped in to write short stories dealing with one character or another.
If you’re curious about a blend of action/adventure and dark fantasy, this is an excellent sampler of what is available from the Monster Hunter series. The one caution is that the novels tend to lean a bit more toward the horrific side of fantasy than the short fiction does.