The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John LeCarre

July 12, 2011 at 10:06 (Book Reviews, Fiction, Highly Rated Books, Thriller) (, , , , )


All throughout, this book seems deucedly realistic, and littered with the sort of bungling and confused mistakes that apparently characterise the real security forces. The characters are a strong and clearly-written medley of personality disorders, petty jealousies, milquetoast obeisance and wilful ignorance; growing pasty around the midriff and set like concrete in their ways. From the first few chapters LeCarre showed his hand, and demonstrated rather keenly that trust and faith were going to be unaffordable luxuries in his book. Betrayal and double-blinds were always in the offing, and the destruction of the odious Mundt seems to the discerning reader an unlikely proposition. In LeCarre’s world, all that is honest and earnest must perish, while cynicism and crooked subhuman parasites survive.

Nevertheless, despite both the bleak outlook and the clarity of the story, dictated in its entirety almost from the first paragraphs, this book still retains an amazing amount of suspense. There are a handful of surprises, but the suspense seems mostly due to LeCarre’s superb abilities as a writer rather than any shocking plot twists. Whatever he might be writing–spy novels, mysteries, romance or adventure–a man who can write like that deserves a place on any bookshelf.

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