Agent Running in the Field
Nat, a 47 year-old veteran of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, believes his years as an agent runner are over. He is back in London with his wife, the long-suffering Prue. But with the growing threat from Moscow Centre, the office has one more job for him. Nat is to take over The Haven, a defunct substation of London General with a rag-tag band of spies. The only bright light on the team is young Florence, who has her eye on Russia Department and a Ukrainian oligarch with a finger in the Russia pie.Nat is not only a spy, he is a passionate badminton player. His regular Monday evening opponent is half his age: the introspective and solitary Ed. Ed hates Brexit, hates Trump and hates his job at some soulless media agency. And it is Ed, of all unlikely people, who will take Prue, Florence and Nat himself down the path of political anger that will ensnare them all.

Agent Running in the Field Details

TitleAgent Running in the Field
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 22nd, 2019
PublisherViking
ISBN-139781984878878
Rating
GenreFiction, Spy Thriller, Espionage, Thriller, Mystery, Audiobook

Agent Running in the Field Review

  • Beata
    January 1, 1970
    John le Carre is one of those authors that I have been reading for years, and spy novels he offers stay with me for many years. I have not read all of his books but those which I have I can still remember rather well. 'Agent Running in the Field' is very much in le Carre's writing style and storytelling. The nuances and niceties cannot be presented better if you are looking for a novel telling you about the art (?) of spying and at the same time you are interested in human nature. The fragility John le Carre is one of those authors that I have been reading for years, and spy novels he offers stay with me for many years. I have not read all of his books but those which I have I can still remember rather well. 'Agent Running in the Field' is very much in le Carre's writing style and storytelling. The nuances and niceties cannot be presented better if you are looking for a novel telling you about the art (?) of spying and at the same time you are interested in human nature. The fragility and ruthlessness intermingle and keeping your head cool and senses alert is the essence ...Spy novels is not my favourite genre, however, I never refuse a JlC novel since I know I will read a book about human nature and reactions rather. I was lucky to have listened to this novel read by the Author, and he does it masterfully.
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  • Jeffrey Keeten
    January 1, 1970
    I possess a rugged charm and the accessible personality of a man of the world. I am in appearance and manner a British archetype, capable of fluent and persuasive argument in the short term. I adapt to circumstance and have no insuperable moral scruples. I can be irascible and am not by any means immune to female charms. I am not naturally suited to deskwork or the sedentary life, which is the understatement of all time. I can be headstrong and do not respond naturally to discipline. This can be ”I possess a rugged charm and the accessible personality of a man of the world. I am in appearance and manner a British archetype, capable of fluent and persuasive argument in the short term. I adapt to circumstance and have no insuperable moral scruples. I can be irascible and am not by any means immune to female charms. I am not naturally suited to deskwork or the sedentary life, which is the understatement of all time. I can be headstrong and do not respond naturally to discipline. This can be both a defect and a virtue.”After decades of assignments overseas, Nat is finally back in London. His long suffering wife, Prue, is happy to have him home. The problem is that, when an agent as long in the tooth as Nat is called home, it usually means it is time for the golden handshake and a boot out the door. An unexpected reprieve occurs, and he is asked to run a department. Politics is not really Nat’s thing, but he will take just about any position to stay in the service just a while longer. It puts off that rather daunting decision of deciding what to do with the rest of his life. This story really comes down to one pivotal moment, which seems insignificant at the time. A young man marches into Nat’s club and demands a badminton match. Nat is club champion and has taken on his share of challengers over the years, but few have been this forceful in their demands. Before I hung up my basketball high tops, I was routinely playing against players two decades or more younger than me. I had to learn to conserve energy and play with more wile than power. Nat is exactly at that point in his badminton career as well. He has had a good run, but just like with his job, he is able to be a gamer for a bit longer using brains rather than brawn before he is forced to hang up the racket for good. Ed is young, obsessed, and judgemental about nearly everything. He is a man trying to find his way through life, and right now naiveness is making him bluster and blunder, which frequently brings a knowing smile to Nat’s lips. They are an unlikely pairing to be friends, but then sometimes those prove to be the friendships that are the most resilient. Here is Ed’s sum up of the current state of things. ”It is my considered opinion that for Britain and Europe, and for liberal democracy across the entire world as a whole, Britain’s departure from the European Union in the time of Donald Trump, and Britain’s consequent unqualified dependence on the United States in an era when the US is heading straight down the road to institutional racism and neo-fascism, is an unmitigated clusterfuck bar none.” As Ed rails against the world, Nat, a career Nationalist, sits there sipping his beer with a knowing smile on his face. John Le Carre uses the Ed character to express his own frustration with the current state of affairs. Nat doesn’t necessarily disagree with Ed, but he, of course, would probably state things with fewer incendiary words. I think there are many people, good people, caught on the wrong side of things right now, who disagree with the direction of their country, but are quietly going about their business hoping the winds will shift in time. Ed is a man who wants to do more than just complain. He wants to do something to enact change. There is a boy scout aspect to him that reminds me of Pyle from The Quiet American, a book which has been on my mind lately. A timely book to reread, I think, in the face of our current political chaos. Nat soon finds himself jammed up because of his association with Ed. Is this kerfuffle a mountain or a molehill? Poor Prue, is this yet another thing she will have to deal with? In a time of over reactions, can Nat keep a steady hand on things? When Nat is asked about Ed, he says something that really resonates with me because it reminds me of the 2016 election. ”It merely crossed my mind that the puritanical side of him might think the West needs punishing. That’s all.” This is often the case for justification that many traitors make regarding their decision to betray their country. By being a traitor, they are actually the ultimate patriot. There were many liberal voters who felt that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party needed to be punished for not being progress enough to embrace Bernie Sanders. These dissatisfied people either refused to vote, voted for a third party candidate, or even grabbed the third rail and voted for Trump. They felt the people of America deserved to have Trump. They were wrong. No matter what our sins. We did not deserve this. John Le Carre has never been shy about expressing his own political views in his novels. What is even more impressive to me is that he is 88 years old and still manages to produce a new book each year. He still writes each novel long hand on yellow notebooks, so all of you writers out there who insist you need the newest, fanciest software to write a book might be putting too many bells and whistles in the way of having a thought and writing it down. Le Carre, despite his left leaning politics, manages to retain readers from both sides of the political spectrum. I know several people who are very proud of the fact that they ONLY read nonfiction who, like a character from a Le Carre novel, read his books surreptitiously. If you have never read a Le Carre novel, this wouldn’t be a bad one to start with. It makes for a good gateway drug into his more convoluted, brilliant novels that may require a slide rule, a diagram, and some clever pondering to keep up with. No worries. Even if you do become lost occasionally in some of his novels, Le Carre will appear out of the fog, wearing a trenchcoat and a knowing smile, and will lead you back to a lighted street to find your way back home. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
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  • BlackOxford
    January 1, 1970
    The Camels-Back Syndrome Democracy is inherently amoral; certainly more so than dictatorships which tend to have rigid codes of behaviour and predictable (if often unpleasant) relationships. Nothing about a democratic society is stable or reliable. Thats its hidden cost, which from time to time unhides itself in phenomena like Trump and Brexit. The Catholic Church recognised this explicitly in a string of 19th century encyclicals that have never been taken off the books. Agent Running in the The Camel’s-Back Syndrome Democracy is inherently amoral; certainly more so than dictatorships which tend to have rigid codes of behaviour and predictable (if often unpleasant) relationships. Nothing about a democratic society is stable or reliable. That’s it’s hidden cost, which from time to time unhides itself in phenomena like Trump and Brexit. The Catholic Church recognised this explicitly in a string of 19th century encyclicals that have never been taken off the books. Agent Running in the Field is a sort of summary of why the Church takes such a dim view of democracy.First, in a democratic society it is presumed that everyone has his or her own interests which one has the right, no the duty, to pursue. Of course this includes members of government and civil servants, even though no one likes to speak of this. The consequence is corruption as an ideal. If you’re not in it for gain, you’re really not a player.Second, the inherent re-valuation of values that goes on constantly within a democracy implies an absence of ethical foundations. A society that believes it is charge of its own morals can end up with some very strange behaviour and even stranger leadership. And without some form of externally confirmed criteria, there is nothing to constrain the idiocy of the worst among us.Finally, democratic societies cannot learn - largely because no one can agree by what standard to judge that to be learned. Every person has his own interpretation. So technological knowledge can be accumulated; but moral knowledge cannot in a democracy. History has no real meaning to those who believe they can reinvent themselves to suit the demands of the day. The present is always exceptional; tradition is always archaic. Continuity is demonstrated only on the discontinuous action and counter-action of alternating governments and fluctuating electoral demands. Consequently democracies don’t adapt, they merely find new ways to repeat the same mistakes.Le Carré as usual tells a good story - all the pieces neatly laid out and wrapped up nicely in the end. Well nearly so. It’s clear in this one that he’s having some reservations about which gangland boss, Putin or Trump, is more representative of democratic government. I think he might be leaning toward the view of the Catholic Church when one of his characters points out the problem of the “camel’s-back syndrome, when the things you’re not allowed to talk about suddenly outweigh the things that you are, and you go down temporarily under the strain?” ‘Temporarily’ may be an optimistic assessment. The Holy Roman Empire, perhaps, wasn’t so bad.Postscript 17December19: I just ran across this in my notes from Richard Hofstader’s 1963 Anti-Intellectualism in American Life , which more concisely captures my intention in the above comments (See https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... “One reason why the political intelligence of our time is so incredulous and uncomprehending in the presence of the right-wing mind is that it does not reckon fully with the essentially theological concern that underlies right-wing views of the world. Characteristically, the political intelligence, if it is to operate at all as a kind of civic force rather than as a mere set of maneuvers to advance this or that special interest, must have its own way of handling the facts of life and of forming strategies. It accepts conflict as a central and enduring reality and understands human society as a form of equipoise based upon the continuing process of compromise. It shuns ultimate showdowns and looks upon the ideal of total partisan victory as unattainable, as merely another variety of threat to the kind of balance with which it is familiar. It is sensitive to nuances and sees things in degrees. It is essentially relativist and skeptical, but at the same time circumspect and humane.The fundamentalist mind will have nothing to do with all this; it is essentially Manichean; it looks upon the world as an arena for conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, and accordingly it scorns compromises (who would compromise with Satan?) and can tolerate no ambiguities. It cannot find serious importance in what it believes to be trifling degrees of difference: liberals support measures that are for all practical purposes socialistic, and socialism is nothing more than a variant of Communism which, as everyone knows, is atheism.”
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  • Darwin8u
    January 1, 1970
    "Nothing endures that is not fought for."- John le Carré , Agent Running in the FieldOK Boomer.First, amazement. I can't believe JlC is still writing great fiction at 88. There are several writers who I feel the weight of time heavy on (John le Carré, John McPhee, and Robert Caro). They all happen to be some of my favorite writers ever, so anytime one of them writes something new it is like oxygen on my reading fire. This novel feels a bit like the 3rd* major interation of le Carré. His first "Nothing endures that is not fought for."- John le Carré , Agent Running in the FieldOK Boomer.First, amazement. I can't believe JlC is still writing great fiction at 88. There are several writers who I feel the weight of time heavy on (John le Carré, John McPhee, and Robert Caro). They all happen to be some of my favorite writers ever, so anytime one of them writes something new it is like oxygen on my reading fire. This novel feels a bit like the 3rd* major interation of le Carré. His first novels were Cold War espionage (Smiley novels, etc), his second were post-Cold War, late stage Capitalism. This book, published when he was 88, is a hard screed against the Nationalisms of Russian, Britain, and especially Trump's America. He is angry and he writes beautiful angry prose.Here are some of my favorite lines about Brexit and Trump:"Do you or do you not regard Trump, which I do, as a threat and incitement to the entire civilized world, plus he is presiding over the systematic no-holds-barred Nazificaiton of the United States?""He's Putin's shithouse cleaner. He does everything for little Vladi that little Vladi can't do for himself; pisses on European unity, pisses on human rights, pisses on Nato. Assures us that Crimea and Ukraine belong to the Holy Russian Empire, the Middle East belongs to the Jew and the Saudis, and to hell with the world Order.""Brexit is self-immolation. The British public is being marched over a cliff by a bunch of rich elitist carpetbaggers posing as men of the people."The ending is a bit too clean and a bit too hopeful? I dunno. I still have to untangle it a bit. Not top-shelf le Carré, but good and solid spy fiction from the MASTER of spy fiction.* Fourth if you count his brief flirtation with crime fiction.
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  • Tea Jovanović
    January 1, 1970
    Maestro of written word... Ingredients of this spy novel are all current goings on... It's hard to be objective for someone who has been his Serbian editor for years... Pure spy novel pleasure mixed with lingustic pleasure...
  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    At the age of eighty-eight, there is no doubt that the John Le Carre that I revere is fully present. The narrative voice employed in this novel is fantastic, as we follow a middle-aged spy who has come in from abroad and is stationed in a dead-end job in London (think a more serious version of Mick Herron's Slough House). And interesting questions are raised about what loyalty to country means in the age of Brexit and Trump. But Le Carre does not hit a home run with every book; the story told At the age of eighty-eight, there is no doubt that the John Le Carre that I revere is fully present. The narrative voice employed in this novel is fantastic, as we follow a middle-aged spy who has come in from abroad and is stationed in a dead-end job in London (think a more serious version of Mick Herron's Slough House). And interesting questions are raised about what loyalty to country means in the age of Brexit and Trump. But Le Carre does not hit a home run with every book; the story told here just isn't up to his best, and the very sudden ending leaves too much open for my taste. If you're a Le Carre fan you should definitely read this - there's still lots to like. But if you haven't read much of his work, there are far better places to start.
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  • Elizabeth George
    January 1, 1970
    I hate the stars. Always ignore them and read the review instead. This is vintage LeCarre, so for his longtime fans and readers (count me among them), it's a good read. But one of the things LeCarre always does is what I call taking no prisoners in his books. What I mean by this is that he has a tendency to throw an enormous cast of characters at you with the expectation that you will remember them. Your choice is either to keep a list or continue to flip back to recall who each person is. Or I hate the stars. Always ignore them and read the review instead. This is vintage LeCarre, so for his longtime fans and readers (count me among them), it's a good read. But one of the things LeCarre always does is what I call taking no prisoners in his books. What I mean by this is that he has a tendency to throw an enormous cast of characters at you with the expectation that you will remember them. Your choice is either to keep a list or continue to flip back to recall who each person is. Or you can always finish the book and then re-read it at once, which I have been known to do. But the style is, as always, wonderful. He has lost none of his power despite now being in his late 80s. And, as my UK editor once said about him, "He'll never stop writing as long as he's angry." And boy is he angry at the current state of US/UK/European relations. And US/UK leaders. He's not afraid to say it, either.
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  • Tim
    January 1, 1970
    Awful. Boring. Senseless. 0 of 10 stars
  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    After a slightly slow start, this turns around at about the 50% mark and suddenly becomes utterly gripping - in a I-can't-sleep-till-I've-finished-this kind of way. And when I say 'slow' about the start, I mean slow in a good way, not dull and crawling. We're no longer in Smiley's world and while some of the old skool types are still around, The Office (no longer The Circus) is far more inclusive (to some extent): we have female Florence, our narrator has a Guardian-reading lawyer/activist wife, After a slightly slow start, this turns around at about the 50% mark and suddenly becomes utterly gripping - in a I-can't-sleep-till-I've-finished-this kind of way. And when I say 'slow' about the start, I mean slow in a good way, not dull and crawling. We're no longer in Smiley's world and while some of the old skool types are still around, The Office (no longer The Circus) is far more inclusive (to some extent): we have female Florence, our narrator has a Guardian-reading lawyer/activist wife, and one of the central characters has a conscience around which the whole plot revolves. This is certainly simpler than the earlier books and nothing like as convoluted as, say, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold or Smiley's People, or even The Constant Gardener. Billed as le Carré's 'angry at Brexit' book, it pulls together a plot involving Brexit, Trump and Putin that won't surprise anyone who followed the ongoing Russian interference in the 2016 US election story - although le Carré does pull off a rather marvellous sleight of hand towards the end. With a fairy-tale/wish-fulfillment ending that won't satisfy everyone, I wouldn't describe this as vintage le Carré. There's a *massive* coincidence that pulls the plot together and the characterisation of Florence, so important to the story, isn't especially credible: (view spoiler)[is Florence really the 'love at first sight' type? (hide spoiler)]. Nevertheless, this is always readable, intelligent about contemporary politics, and has a more compassionate ending than some of the bleaker books. I enjoyed it hugely.
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  • Dana Stabenow
    January 1, 1970
    I finished this book last night and went to bed thinking about it and woke up thinking about it and it's been a while since a book made me think this long or this hard. It reminds me of Robert Heinlein's novella "If This Goes On." Heinlein's novella is more of a prequel to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale but Le Carre's novel is the same kind of "if this goes on this is what happens next."Le Carre is looking at Trump and Brexit through the eyes of spies and if this goes on what happens I finished this book last night and went to bed thinking about it and woke up thinking about it and it's been a while since a book made me think this long or this hard. It reminds me of Robert Heinlein's novella "If This Goes On." Heinlein's novella is more of a prequel to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale but Le Carre's novel is the same kind of "if this goes on this is what happens next."Le Carre is looking at Trump and Brexit through the eyes of spies and if this goes on what happens next. What happens next is a cabal of spies, US and UK, get together to work on a secret agreement to form a union of two countries against the rest of the world, destroying the European Union and the Pax Americana while they're at it, la la. It doesn't sound that out there, and it sure doesn't read that way, either. The spy's eye view is coldly informative, to say the least, as here when Le Carre's hero, Nat, remembersThe date, never to be forgotten by either of us, is 16 July. We have played our usual strenuous match. I have lost again, but never mind, get used to it. Casually, towels round our necks, we head for our Stammitsch anticipating the usual sporadic Monday-evening clatter of voices and glasses in a largely empty room. Instead we are met by an unnatural, fidgety silence. At the bar, a half-dozen of our Chinese members are staring at a television screen that is routinely given over to sport of any kind from anywhere. But this evening we are not for once watching American football or Icelandic ice hockey but Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.The two leaders are in Helsinki giving a joint press conference. they are standing shoulder to shoulder before the flags of both their nations. Trump, speaking as if to order, is disowning the findings of his own intelligence services, which have come up with the inconvenient truth that Russia interfered in the 2016 American presidential election. Putin smiles his proud jailer's smile...A commentator reminds, us, lest we have forgotten, that only yesterday Trump declared Europe to be his enemy and for good measure trashed NATO.Ouch. Previously one of Nat's old informants tells himYou know what Trump is?...He's Putin's shithouse cleaner. He does everything for little Vladi that little Vladi can't do for himself: pisses on European unity, pisses on human rights, pisses on NATO. Assures us that Crimea and Ukraine belong to the Holy Russian Empire, the Middle East belongs to the Jews and the Saudis, and to hell with the world order. And you Brits, what do you do? You suck his dick and invite him to tea with your Queen. You take our black money and wash it for us. You welcome us if we're big enough crooks. You sell us half London. You wring your hands when we poison our traitors and you say please, please, dear Russian friends, trade with us. Is this what I risked my life for? I don't believe so. I believe you Brits sold me a cartload of hypocritical horseshit. So don't tell me you've come here to remind me of my liberal conscience and my Christian values and my love of your great big British Empire. That would be an error..."A big one. When a Sister Service paper pusher and a true believer in the EU discovers the conspiracy and is busted trying to give it to the Germans, Ned's boss saysPoint about Trump is, he's a gang boss, born and bred. Brought up to screw civil society all ways up, not be part of it...And poor little Vladi Putin never had any democratic potty training at all...Born a spy, still a spy, with Stalin's paranoia to boot. Wakes up every morning amazed the West hasn't blown him out of the water with a pre-emptive strike.But Ned's Service is still prepared to deal if they can only retain the shreds of power left to them, which is predicated on the gang boss.A thoroughly uncomfortable and illuminating look in the mirror if you're American. Recommended.
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  • Manuel Antão
    January 1, 1970
    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.Englishness: "Agent Running in the Field" by John le CarréAfter more than 10 years attending the British Council I feel only half English now at best and even that is waning. The other half I associate with things like football hooliganism, small mindedness, nationalism, old white blokes spouting shite in decaying working men's clubs, establishment rabble rousers and middle England (those have always been very English things, and I If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.Englishness: "Agent Running in the Field" by John le CarréAfter more than 10 years attending the British Council I feel only half English now at best and even that is waning. The other half I associate with things like football hooliganism, small mindedness, nationalism, old white blokes spouting shite in decaying working men's clubs, establishment rabble rousers and middle England (those have always been very English things, and I probably wouldn't have it any other way, apart from the hooliganism perhaps...).
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  • Linda Bond
    January 1, 1970
    With everything thats going on in our world today, its hard to imagine anyone being able to put together a great spy story that takes it all in. But, of course, John Le Carré is up to the task. He gives us a mid-life agent who thinks hes semi-retired, except hes not. Instead he has to take on the task of running a slightly off-kilter enclave in London thats about to get itself into very hot water. Nat and his wife Prue, plus energetic devotee Florence, are about to follow the angry Ed down a With everything that’s going on in our world today, it’s hard to imagine anyone being able to put together a great spy story that takes it all in. But, of course, John Le Carré is up to the task. He gives us a mid-life agent who thinks he’s semi-retired, except he’s not. Instead he has to take on the task of running a slightly off-kilter enclave in London that’s about to get itself into very hot water. Nat and his wife Prue, plus energetic devotee Florence, are about to follow the angry Ed down a rabbit hole. Will they find a way out before it’s too late? This is tension at its best. Enjoy!I met this book at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane, WA
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  • Ed
    January 1, 1970
    I tend to rate books by my favourite authors a bit more harshly than usual, so a le Carré 3* is probably worth a 4* by another author. As with the rest of his oeuvres, I devoured this quickly and relished that JlC brand of intrigue bubbling under the surface. That said, I felt that this book ultimately fell short in a number of aspects. There were moments of greatness: enjoyable tradecraft, simmerings of wider conspiracies and twisty-turny character motivations that kept you guessing. But I I tend to rate books by my favourite authors a bit more harshly than usual, so a le Carré 3* is probably worth a 4* by another author. As with the rest of his oeuvres, I devoured this quickly and relished that JlC brand of intrigue bubbling under the surface. That said, I felt that this book ultimately fell short in a number of aspects. There were moments of greatness: enjoyable tradecraft, simmerings of wider conspiracies and twisty-turny character motivations that kept you guessing. But I don't think the book built on its foundations. Some of the side-strands weren't developed (what was the point of Dom Trench?), the obvious explanation for a character's motivation was usually, disappointingly correct, and the main storyline just didn't seem to be of much consequence in the grand scheme of things. It certainly paled in comparison to the double-doubles and innermost traitors of Cold War le Carré. And then there's the ending: I had to read it twice to be sure that's all there was to it. It seems like the author hit a deadline and wrapped it up with a couple of paragraphs of 'happily-ever-after'.As a reflection on our times, this was occasionally interesting (what does Britain's new place in the world mean for its oldest espionage alliances?) but usually descended into the obvious (Trump bad, Brexit bad, Europe good etc.).Overall, no one can make a conference room tete-a-tete as entertaining as le Carré, and all of his usual gifts of cerebral spy writing are present here. But this book feels like a missed opportunity; somewhat rushed and not fully developed. Le Carré fans will still enjoy it, though, and he's still a national treasure.
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  • SlowRain
    January 1, 1970
    Much has been made about this novel--set in 2018--being John le Carré's Brexit and Trump novel, and the fury with which it was written. And, while that is true to a certain extent, and even plays a crucial role in the plot, it isn't a scathing polemic on the matter. What I believe will happen is left-leaning reviewers will praise it, and right-leaning reviewers will condemn it, solely on political grounds. What you won't be hearing in all the hubbub, though, is a lot of praise for its literary Much has been made about this novel--set in 2018--being John le Carré's Brexit and Trump novel, and the fury with which it was written. And, while that is true to a certain extent, and even plays a crucial role in the plot, it isn't a scathing polemic on the matter. What I believe will happen is left-leaning reviewers will praise it, and right-leaning reviewers will condemn it, solely on political grounds. What you won't be hearing in all the hubbub, though, is a lot of praise for its literary merit.For the initiated, this is le Carré lite. Loyal readers noticed a change in style--and not just subject matter--after the Cold War ended. They also noticed a change in 2000 to a more political and social mantra. With his previous novel, A Legacy of Spies, there was another simplification of his narrative style. I originally thought it was because, it being a sequel to The Spy Who Came in from the Cold--which itself had a simple narrative style owing to le Carré's early days--he didn't want to bowl over readers who may not have kept up with his writing in the interim. (In addition, I also think he's trying to increase the exposure and "filmability" of the novel now that his sons are in the movie-making business and have sole rights to his catalog.) So I'd say this is the new le Carré for modern audiences. The man who had previously elevated the spy novel to Literature status and made it about the journey has now resorted to plot twists.The narrative moves fast, if not the plot--not that his plots ever did. There is little time for exposition or building much in the way of credibility. Everything has to be taken at face value because it has been written down and is staring the reader in the face, so therefore we have no choice but to accept it. It is neither a slow nor a long read, so it won't consume much time or effort either way.The title, and both the US and UK covers, seems misleading as well. There is no running in the novel. I believe someone mentions jogging, and they do play badminton, but nothing that breaks a sweat off of the badminton court. That leads me to believe the title has another meaning. It could be a punctuation issue, instead being Agent-Running, in the Field, but it isn't really a novel of espionage tradecraft. Rather, I believe it refers to the directionless, zig-zagging of someone crashing haphazardly through an unfamiliar space. In that regard, the title is very post-modern, because that also seems to be how le Carré wrote the novel.Who should read it? People who like straight-forward page-turners with ups and downs and twists. Who should not read it? Anyone who admires and respects what he published between 1974 and 1989.
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  • Elle Rudy
    January 1, 1970
    John le Carré is one of those authors whos work I recognize by name and reputation only. I know he writes spy novels, starting with his Cold War espionage thrillers featuring George Smiley. I know he was a former British intelligence officer before switching to writing full-time. I know many of his books have been adapted into miniseries and film. I also know hes really old. For the sake of this review I looked it up: hes 88.While probably not the book most le Carré fans would recommend starting John le Carré is one of those authors who’s work I recognize by name and reputation only. I know he writes spy novels, starting with his Cold War espionage thrillers featuring George Smiley. I know he was a former British intelligence officer before switching to writing full-time. I know many of his books have been adapted into miniseries and film. I also know he’s really old. For the sake of this review I looked it up: he’s 88.While probably not the book most le Carré fans would recommend starting out with, I think this is a good a point as any to jump in. For that reason I can’t really compare it relative to his prior catalogue, but I feel as though I got a feel for his general writing style. For me, it felt pretty dry and detached, thought that might just be how his spy novels are intentionally written. Either way, it left me pretty uninvested in nearly all the characters. All of the young people (basically anyone under 30) are depicted as emotionally unstable and in need of constant minding. They’re literally incapable of any type of impulse control and their older, wiser contemporaries are often left shrugging their shoulders at youthful naïveté or chuckling to themselves with a ‘Kids—what can you do?’ condescension. These are adults in their twenties, but in this version of the world they are uniformly arrogant and immature. The young men get some benefit of the doubt, though, as they are ‘passionate’ where the women are ‘hysterical’. Perhaps there’s just a cluster of irrational young people in this story alone, but as writers get older I’ve noticed they find it harder to write believably young characters.Le Carré has not lost his ability to construct a compelling protagonist, though. Nat is a British every-man-turned-spy that enjoys things like badminton, the company of his wife and scotch. He’s easy for a reader to imprint themselves on and is morally driven while being astute in his decision making. There’s really nothing negative to hang your hat on and he acts as an ethical compass for a cast of shifting and shrouded loyalties. I can see why people like these types of books. Honestly, I did enjoy reading it, but I lost the thread quite a bit. Maybe parts were above my comprehension or maybe he could have been clearer, I don’t know. I do think that conspiracy plots are convoluted by definition, and I wasn't always sure of the function of various British intelligence operations, so that may have contributed.All in all, probably not my genre. I’m still interested in the Smiley series if I can goad my library into purchasing Call for the Dead. I absolutely refuse to begin at book three. Popularity and ratings be damned, I am not ready for you The Spy Who Came In from the Cold! John le Carré fans will most likely enjoy this one, and everyone else can at least appreciate it. Cheers to him for still publishing at this stage in his life! For his part, le Carré absolutely went in on Brexit and Donald Trump. Just totally devastating to be lambasted by such an icon, let alone one who has, quite literally, written the book several times on Cold War relations. Especially when both were funded and pushed by contemporary Russia. What a world
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  • Truman32
    January 1, 1970
    When youre a spy, not paying attention to the little things, the details and the subtle insinuations can get you killed. Of course in the old espionage game there are many other things that could get you killed as well: cyanide capsules, a razor-edged bowler hat swooshing across the room, the shark-infested booby trapped floor of Ernest Stavro Blofeld, and of course a diet high in cholesterol. But paying attention to the small clues is vital. This could also be said of John le Carrés newest When you’re a spy, not paying attention to the little things, the details and the subtle insinuations can get you killed. Of course in the old espionage game there are many other things that could get you killed as well: cyanide capsules, a razor-edged bowler hat swooshing across the room, the shark-infested booby trapped floor of Ernest Stavro Blofeld, and of course a diet high in cholesterol. But paying attention to the small clues is vital. This could also be said of John le Carré’s newest novel Agent Running in the Field. It is what is implied, the seemingly insignificant actions as well as the choice of words chosen by the characters that tell the reader what is going on. John le Carré is a writer who subscribes to the “show don’t tell” style of writing. You may be interested to know he is also a writer who subscribes to Dog Fancy, Cosmo, and Rodeo Clown Weekly. In Agent Running in the Field we have Nat, who works for the English government handling secret agents. He is also a rabid badminton player. It is while playing at his home athletic club that Nat makes the acquaintance of Ed and soon they are playing a game every week (sometimes twice a week). Ed is a curious chap, in addition to his love of playing badminton he is consistently enraged by the current political climate including (but not limited to) such wonderful events as Donald Trump winning the U.S. presidential election and Brexit. Ed cannot seem to shut off his mouth and in many ways he is like that uncle of yours who is always posting provoking posts about guns on your Facebook timeline when all you really want to do is look a videos about kittens. Soon this earnest anger and desire to just do something brings Ed into Nat’s field of work. While slow on action, the story moves briskly and is always engaging. Most of this is due to le Carré’s sparse hardboiled writing style. Well into his 80’s, le Carré writes like a person with more sweaters. It is obvious that through the years his writing ability has improved in direct relation to his ability to grow thick unruly old man eyebrows. We are lucky to have this guy still churning out such great stories. Agent Running in the Field is like a martini that is shaken and not stirred. Except instead of a martini it is a Pepsi. And because it has just been shaken foaming goodness is now spritzing all over the high-end international baccarat table. People are screaming, and bodyguards are drawing their weapons. It is that good!
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  • Mean Drake
    January 1, 1970
    One of the worst JlC books I've read. More of a rant against Trump and Brexit, not that I'm for either of them, but I didn't pick up this book to be treated of a further dose of Twitter.The tradecraft is too shallow and the end too open ended to be of any satisfaction.
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  • Jack Horan
    January 1, 1970
    The man's still got it
  • John Farebrother
    January 1, 1970
    Great read, another classic Le Carre. So classic indeed that it would be refreshing to see him depart from his bog-standard (middle class) individual-against-the-establishment spy drama from time to time. At least this one has a relatively happy ending for a change. And as usual, his portrayal of the civil service as largely populated by incompetent fawning careerists who don't hesitate to shit on the few members of staff who actually do something strikes a chord with me.Having said that, it is, Great read, another classic Le Carre. So classic indeed that it would be refreshing to see him depart from his bog-standard (middle class) individual-against-the-establishment spy drama from time to time. At least this one has a relatively happy ending for a change. And as usual, his portrayal of the civil service as largely populated by incompetent fawning careerists who don't hesitate to shit on the few members of staff who actually do something strikes a chord with me.Having said that, it is, as usual for the author, extremely well written. And he manages to throw in some scathing comments on the current UK government, and Brexit. The characters and scenario are gradually built up, and the reader is suddenly caught by complete surprise as the plot takes some unexpected 180 (or 360) degree turns. After the slow build-up, the action suddenly accelerates towards the end of the book.But I can't help the feeling that his recent works lack something of the sheer scope of his heyday. Perhaps he could find a way to tie in some of those books into a larger whole, creating a world (or at least a sub-world) to rival that of the Circus.
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  • Deon Stonehouse
    January 1, 1970
    Nat is an aging spy with three passions, the work he loves, his family, and badminton. His wife, Prue, a respected attorney, has stood by him through all his faraway postings, staying home raising their daughter and building a solid career. Now back in London, at 47 Nat is afraid he will be put out to pasture. He thrives in the field, has let his work take him away from his family for years as he concentrated on Russia. It was dangerous work that he thought relative to Britains national Nat is an aging spy with three passions, the work he loves, his family, and badminton. His wife, Prue, a respected attorney, has stood by him through all his faraway postings, staying home raising their daughter and building a solid career. Now back in London, at 47 Nat is afraid he will be put out to pasture. He thrives in the field, has let his work take him away from his family for years as he concentrated on Russia. It was dangerous work that he thought relative to Britain’s national security. Work he was good at, but 47 is getting long in the tooth for running field agents and dodging the other side. He goes in for what he fears will be his dismissal, or relegation to a boring desk job, only to find he is being offered a substation, Haven, to run. Admittedly it is not a highly regarded substation, rather the opposite, but at least he is still in the game. He has one sharp agent, Florence, who has found an in to the dealings of a Ukrainian oligarch. Nat and Florence put together a proposal that could turn into a major operation if the higher ups give the green light. Nat works off the tension playing competitive badminton with a young opponent, Ed. The younger man is good, but Nat has been the club champion for ages, he still has the moves. After their games they repair to the club bar where Ed fumes about his frustrating job, the idiocy of Trump, and Brexit. Harmless blowing off of steam Nat thinks. But things are about to go haywire. Le Carre infuses this tale of an aging spy involved in way more than he anticipated with humor and a good dose of anger at our current political situation.
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  • Kathleen Gray
    January 1, 1970
    I'm torn about this latest from the best espionage writer ever. On the one hand, there's considerable pleasure in reading the complex mystery Le Carre has created. He's nailed it, once again, on the details of espionage, counterintelligence, counterespionage, internal politics, and so on. On the other, the subplot of how awful Donald Trump and Brexit are and that this is a reason to commit treason left me cold. Yes, it's a legitimate and no doubt real reason for some but it made this less I'm torn about this latest from the best espionage writer ever. On the one hand, there's considerable pleasure in reading the complex mystery Le Carre has created. He's nailed it, once again, on the details of espionage, counterintelligence, counterespionage, internal politics, and so on. On the other, the subplot of how awful Donald Trump and Brexit are and that this is a reason to commit treason left me cold. Yes, it's a legitimate and no doubt real reason for some but it made this less escapist pleasure and more, well, like a political novel with an odd ending. Nat, a long time BSIS officer has been called back to London where he's cast out into a small station dealing with small issues, or so it appears. He spends time at his badminton club with Ed, who appeared one day and challenged him. His daughter is annoyed with him (until she's not), his wife is busy with her law practice, and he's a little bored until he begins handling a Russian illegal. His favorite employee quits in an unexplained huff. And then the illegal is told he's to begin setting up for a big meeting in London. As always, there are twists aplenty, including one that came as quite a surprise (but leaves an unanswered question of how - wait no spoilers!). Florence, so key to the story, is not really fleshed out beyond a fondness for red wine. As noted, the ending did. not seem consistent to me. Thanks to edelweiss for the ARC. Le Carre fans will debate this one. It's not his best but it's still pretty darn good.
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  • Catie
    January 1, 1970
    I love John le Carré. I love his voice. I love his people. I love his nuance. I love his wisdom. I love his subtle humour. I love his moral outrage. I love his books.I loved this book too and was entirely gripped by it for as long as it took to read it. So, as I love all his work, does this one really rate five whole stars? Perhaps not; not for any lapse in quality, but it is a slighter book and while I understood the rather abrupt ending, it left me wanting more.So the final star, which should I love John le Carré. I love his voice. I love his people. I love his nuance. I love his wisdom. I love his subtle humour. I love his moral outrage. I love his books.I loved this book too and was entirely gripped by it for as long as it took to read it. So, as I love all his work, does this one really rate five whole stars? Perhaps not; not for any lapse in quality, but it is a slighter book and while I understood the rather abrupt ending, it left me wanting more.So the final star, which should perhaps be just part of a star, is there to add a bit of counterbalance to the individuals who rated it one star weeks before the book was even published.
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  • David R. Dowdy
    January 1, 1970
    John le Carre gets the job done in writing Agent Running in the Field. ARITF is a first-person account of Nat whos had a successful career as a spy but is now washed-up. Hes transitioning to retirement and takes a new assignment that keeps him somewhat involved in secretive state work. We see a little bit of every part of his world. Theres Pru his lovely and supportive wife who started out as a spy and quickly yet wisely slunk back to less stressful work practicing before the bar. His daughter John le Carre gets the job done in writing Agent Running in the Field. ARITF is a first-person account of Nat who’s had a successful career as a spy but is now washed-up. He’s transitioning to retirement and takes a new assignment that keeps him somewhat involved in secretive state work. We see a little bit of every part of his world. There’s Pru his lovely and supportive wife who started out as a spy and quickly yet wisely slunk back to less stressful work practicing before the bar. His daughter Steff, the only child, takes for granted that he’s given his life to his country and crown. She sees him as unwilling to challenge the established order.He recounts his achievements, chiefly serving as a liaison to agents in the field. Being a spy is not easy work. One is often alone and desperate for the security and freedom of life at home. Nat provided the rock and hope many needed as they strove to fulfill their assignments.Then there is Ed Shannon who comes out of nowhere and challenges Nat in a series of badminton outings. Nat and his newfound friend Ed relish their discussions about current topics. There is a growing bond a la father and son.Brexit and Trump come up a lot in their conversations which help bridge the age gap. Nat sums up Donald Trump (like him or not) very well when he says the President was “brought up to screw civil society all ways, not be a part of it”. I found that to be a fitting theme for ARITF.Everything is going well and suddenly there is a low point for Nat that I felt personally. Despite his experience, Nat gets himself into an ironic pickle and we spend the remainder of the book reading in horror as everything untangles. To be suspected of disloyalty is one thing. To be suspected of disloyalty as a veteran spy is heartbreaking. One feels somewhat the squeeze and darkness of espionage coming from the wrong side. For all the gallantry Nat showed in his past work, there is little solace.Le Carre is THE master of spy thrillers. He’s a very good writer of the novels that help readers find powerful reasons to believe there are a few yet basic reasons to love and cherish life.
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  • Christine
    January 1, 1970
    When I was reading this book, a friend asked me what I thought of it. I said it wasn't as good as the Smiley novels but was better than the Constant Gardener. But that was before I got to the part where he takes shots at Putin and Trump, so I'm not sure how to describe it.There are parts of this book that do not quite work. Nat's interest, for instance, in his female staff member who resigns does not quite make sense, especially since care is taken to illustrate that it is not desire. I get that When I was reading this book, a friend asked me what I thought of it. I said it wasn't as good as the Smiley novels but was better than the Constant Gardener. But that was before I got to the part where he takes shots at Putin and Trump, so I'm not sure how to describe it.There are parts of this book that do not quite work. Nat's interest, for instance, in his female staff member who resigns does not quite make sense, especially since care is taken to illustrate that it is not desire. I get that she is brilliant but there is no real sense of a deep working relationship between the two.The bit about duty vs belief, vs country vs convictions is what really sells the book because that debate is the hinge upon which most of the action rests. That makes for interesting look a how does one stay true to self. But mostly, the book's greatest reward for the reader is in the character of Prue who for a portion of the book is in the background but then towards the second half becomes far more important. Readers who disliked how Smiley's wife was drawn will love Prue.
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  • Nigeyb
    January 1, 1970
    I came to John le Carré's latest book, Agent Running in the Field (2019), as a long term admirer of his work. He's a consumate storyteller and his work transcends whichever genre pigeonhole he gets shoved into. Long term readers will already know about JLC's pro-European mindset and it quickly becomes clear just how disbelieving and despairing he is about recent political developments in Britain. The first person narrative gives Agent Running in the Field an immediacy missing from most of his I came to John le Carré's latest book, Agent Running in the Field (2019), as a long term admirer of his work. He's a consumate storyteller and his work transcends whichever genre pigeonhole he gets shoved into. Long term readers will already know about JLC's pro-European mindset and it quickly becomes clear just how disbelieving and despairing he is about recent political developments in Britain. The first person narrative gives Agent Running in the Field an immediacy missing from most of his books. Needless to say JLC's passion does not impinge on another espionage masterclass. That he is publishing work of this calibre at age 88 is nothing short of remarkable. I can't think of too many writers who have maintained his level of quality for almost 60 years. In addition to an engrossing tale of tradecraft, readers will also enjoy and appreciate JLC's trademark panache, sly humour and piercing insight.If you haven't read Agent Running in the Field yet, then what are you playing at? It is so much more than an appalled look at modern Britain, it's an enjoyable and original thriller which gets increasingly exciting. 4/5The blurbNat, a 47 year-old veteran of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, believes his years as an agent runner are over. He is back in London with his wife, the long-suffering Prue. But with the growing threat from Moscow Centre, the office has one more job for him. Nat is to take over The Haven, a defunct substation of London General with a rag-tag band of spies. The only bright light on the team is young Florence, who has her eye on Russia Department and a Ukrainian oligarch with a finger in the Russia pie.Nat is not only a spy, he is a passionate badminton player. His regular Monday evening opponent is half his age: the introspective and solitary Ed. Ed hates Brexit, hates Trump and hates his job at some soulless media agency. And it is Ed, of all unlikely people, who will take Prue, Florence and Nat himself down the path of political anger that will ensnare them all. Agent Running in the Field is a chilling portrait of our time, now heartbreaking, now darkly humorous, told to us with unflagging tension by the greatest chronicler of our age.
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  • Calzean
    January 1, 1970
    Le Carre still can produce the goods. Nat is a 47 year old field agent who returns to London and is given a not so plum desk job running a group of sleeper agents with a small staff and little urgency. Nat uses his experience and contacts to identify a potential new well placed agent being groomed by Russia.The book is all Le Carre. A slow beginning. Plenty of secrets being kept from each other and the bosses to the point you wonder whether anyone is running the show. And then Le Carre takes on Le Carre still can produce the goods. Nat is a 47 year old field agent who returns to London and is given a not so plum desk job running a group of sleeper agents with a small staff and little urgency. Nat uses his experience and contacts to identify a potential new well placed agent being groomed by Russia.The book is all Le Carre. A slow beginning. Plenty of secrets being kept from each other and the bosses to the point you wonder whether anyone is running the show. And then Le Carre takes on Brexit and Trump and the soul searching within the spy world into who actually are they protecting and who from. Clever as usual.
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  • Paul Bartusiak
    January 1, 1970
    Le Carre Takes a Side or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the ServiceIt's a play on Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove , for the not quite initiated. Of course Kubrick loved war no more than Cornwell (d/b/a Le Carre) loved the warped sensibilities of a frustrated, weathered, compromised secret service.But Le Carre's taken a side. He even dropped the words "Deep State" into the mix. It's fascinating to contemplate. In my line of work I've been personally involved in matters that have been Le Carre Takes a Side or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the ServiceIt's a play on Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove , for the not quite initiated. Of course Kubrick loved war no more than Cornwell (d/b/a Le Carre) loved the warped sensibilities of a frustrated, weathered, compromised secret service.But Le Carre's taken a side. He even dropped the words "Deep State" into the mix. It's fascinating to contemplate. In my line of work I've been personally involved in matters that have been reported on in the press. It's illuminating to see how much they get right, how much is conjecture, and how much is wrong. I can't imagine what that would be like for a conflicted press driven by a divine mission (well, yes, I can, flipping between CNN And Fox). Add to the mix the press and the government fervently feeding off of and reinforcing each other... And then we have Le Carre, long time past, so much water under the bridge, in the know those so many years ago, but now, alas, an innocent bystander just like the rest of us, no longer in the know. English imperialists, intellectual elite, Deep state, the references are more overt than that: at his age, it's no holds barred, Trump and Putin glaringly mentioned as characters in the plot. Calm yourself as you read; don't take a side. It's literature, or as Greene would say, Entertainment.Personally, though, I think I prefer mine to be more abstract on that front, though as I think about it I suppose when the names are changed, sometimes the glaring similarities are more distracting than the overt references. But I digress, what are my feelings of the story, at least for posterity's sake?It's a fine one. Le Carre is still at his full power, and in some regards, he's let his guard down, has become more linear explanatory. Just enough, mind you, to keep those less familiar with his style interested. There are still plenty of code names, alias's, and unfinished threads to add confusion. Some are built up, throwing off the scent, only to be revealed in a couple of loose, but fairly direct references. But Le Carre hasn't just loosened the belt a little, he's cleared the fog from the mirror in softening his technique, and some of his passages, dare I say it, are Dickensian. Here's a portion of his opening paragraph, which I love:There are events in my life - only a few these days, it's true - that admit of one version only. Our meeting is such an event. My telling of it never wavered in all the times they made me repeat it.On an NPR radio interview recently, the interviewer asked Le Carre how he elevates his writing, how he deals with the fact that "fact and reality itself" are so close to fiction these days. His answer, in summary, is that it's the characters around those facts, their story that envelopes it, that is the really interesting part. No one does that better than Le Carre. Bravo.-Paul
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  • Bookreporter.com Mystery & Thriller
    January 1, 1970
    John le Carré, the bestselling author of more than two dozen Cold War-era spy novels, rose to fame in 1963 with the creation of the British secret agent George Smiley in THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD. This bombshell novel was promptly turned into a movie (still available for streaming) starring Richard Burton. His filmography contains more books-to-movies and TV series over decades than we can list here, starring some of the biggest names in Hollywood.Who better to cast a discerning eye on John le Carré, the bestselling author of more than two dozen Cold War-era spy novels, rose to fame in 1963 with the creation of the British secret agent George Smiley in THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD. This bombshell novel was promptly turned into a movie (still available for streaming) starring Richard Burton. His filmography contains more books-to-movies and TV series over decades than we can list here, starring some of the biggest names in Hollywood.Who better to cast a discerning eye on the current state of spycraft than a former British undercover agent? Le Carré (née David John Moore Cornwell) spent a few years himself as a spy for MI6 in its early days. If the Cold War as we know it is over, espionage is not. At age 88, le Carré rewards us with a new character as he speaks to the current state of affairs in 2018. Brexit is on the verge of success, with Boris Johnson ready to take power, Donald Trump is attempting to gut NATO, and influence by two of the most powerful nations in the free world appears to be waning.British agent Nat has been in the spy game since college, plying his craft in primarily Eastern European countries. He has perfected his German and Russian language skills, and his contacts are indispensable. But the years have taken its toll. Now, at 47, he has reached that awkward age of “up or out,” so when he is recalled by London to return to his home country, he is mildly relieved. Perhaps he can comfortably retire on his pension with his wife, Prue, a successful attorney, and he looks forward to renewing a strained relationship with his college-age daughter. He expects at least the inevitable handshake and medal for service or, perhaps at best, a promotion to a position at the Russia House out of London. Instead, he is appointed in a lateral move to head up a remote substation overseeing a group of young spies in training.Nat works off his frustration by perfecting his semi-retirement skills at badminton and becomes a club champion. There he is contacted by Ed, a young man who seeks to challenge him, and they strike up an acquaintance. They brood over the current state of the world over beers after each encounter and form a shallow relationship.Only le Carré could draw the reader into the finely tuned web of intrigue and betrayal that follows. Gone is the spycraft of old --- the folded newspaper, that lamp in the attic window (Is it lit? Is it on the left or right side? Was I seen covertly clearing that drop?). As a longtime spy thriller fan, I almost missed those tricks of the trade, stock deceptions used by so many of this master’s followers in the genre.Refreshingly, le Carré avoids the current crutch of cell phone traces, high-tech computer bugs, and the bells and whistles of electronic embellishments. Instead, he relies on the wizard’s deception of nuance and characterization to lure us into the final stark betrayal.Enjoy!Reviewed by Roz Shea
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  • Lynn Horton
    January 1, 1970
    This is a fully 4-plus-star read for me, but I'm bumping it up to 5 because of the author's age and general quality of work.It's simply this: with all the dreck being published todayby traditional, independent, and self-published authorsTHIS is what a professional manuscript looks like. It's spare. Well-edited. Each word and chapter has earned its right to be on the page. It's nuanced and timely. No emotion is wasted, and the author never intrudes (except in his political opinions). I cared This is a fully 4-plus-star read for me, but I'm bumping it up to 5 because of the author's age and general quality of work.It's simply this: with all the dreck being published today—by traditional, independent, and self-published authors—THIS is what a professional manuscript looks like. It's spare. Well-edited. Each word and chapter has earned its right to be on the page. It's nuanced and timely. No emotion is wasted, and the author never intrudes (except in his political opinions). I cared about the characters and their stories, although I suspected the villain about 30% through—and that didn't bother me, because I wanted to see how the author ties everything off. Each element of the story propels it forward. The pacing is excellent. Even the profanity is appropriate and well-deserved. And the ending, which is a little too neat for me, ties off the loose ends without dangling a dreaded teaser for a next book.Is it the best le Carré I've ever read? No. Is it miles better than some of what I read? Undoubtedly.The fact that the author is 88 inspires me.Recommended.
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    This book is grand fun, a wonderful contemporary espionage caper from author John le Carré. I like it when things change up, and this is definitely a fresh change from his wonderful spy thrillers of the past.There will be badminton, healing of a marriage, wacky tribunals at the Office, Russian and German spies and some heroic bravery.
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