Review Tuesday: The Spy Who Came In From the Cold by John le Carre

The Spy Who Came In From the Cold by John le Carre is his third novel, and the third (while not a series) book in the world of Smiley. And this one by far is the best novel out of the three.

From Goodreads:

In this classic, John le Carre’s third novel and the first to earn him international acclaim, he created a world unlike any previously experienced in suspense fiction. With unsurpassed knowledge culled from his years in British Intelligence, le Carre brings to light the shadowy dealings of international espionage in the tale of a British agent who longs to end his career but undertakes one final, bone-chilling assignment. When the last agent under his command is killed and Alec Leamas is called back to London, he hopes to come in from the cold for good. His spymaster, Control, however, has other plans. Determined to bring down the head of East German Intelligence and topple his organization, Control once more sends Leamas into the fray — this time to play the part of the dishonored spy and lure the enemy to his ultimate defeat.

The aspect that I love about John le Carre’s novels is that it doesn’t read like a hollywood movie – there are no crazy gun fights, Tom Cruise doesn’t hang onto the side of a plane, and the world isn’t saved from near destruction. The storylines in these books come across as true and possible because they’re aren’t Hollywood. These stories are all about the quiet “real” aspect of espionage – who knows what, and which lies do you tell in which situation. Does the person you’re talking about know you’re lying? Do they know something that you don’t? The book is layered with conversations that have double meanings, and you’re never sure exactly what is true, or even more confusing – what is true, but what is more true.

The book is told from Leamas perspective. He is a spy who’s almost finished his career in the spy business, but has one last job that he’s going to do. He’s told that he’s going to bring down the head of East German Intelligence, but things turn complicated when a double agent comes into play – the question is which side is the agent playing? Which side do his loyalties lie on?

This book had me on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading it. I couldn’t figure out who the double agent was until just about the end, and then end – well the end was painful and I think it was most painful because you can totally see it happening.

This is a definite must read, and John le Carre’s book are definite must reads if you are at all into spies or espionage.


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