Book Review - The Spy Who Came In From The Cold by John le Carre
While I'm still at the beginning of John le Carre's bibliography, I'm still amazed at how he can write a complete novel yet still keep the page count down. It's so different than today's 400 page doorstops that could stand a fair amount of trimming. The Spy Who Came In From The Cold is a tightly woven espionage story from the Cold War days, and le Carre keeps the twists and turns coming at a non-stop pace.
The story revolves around a burned out British spymaster, Leamas, who wants to call it quits. But before he does, he's asked to do one more job involving the capture of East Germany's most notorious espionage agent, Mundt. The scene is set to make Leamas look like a washed up spy who is on the outs with his government, and therefore ripe for recruiting. And of course, the other side takes the bait. He's debriefed for much of the basic info, but they want to take him over the border back into East Germany and beyond to find out even more. Things take a bit of a sideway turn when the British government puts an all-points bulletin out for him, and it looks as if Leamas may really need to follow through on what looks like a full defection. But the deeper he gets, the more confused he is as to who is working for who, and whether he ever will be allowed to come in from the cold...
The aspect of The Spy Who Came In From The Cold that I enjoyed most was le Carre's way of keeping the reader guessing as to what was actually going on behind the scenes. As with real-life espionage, nothing is ever black and white, and shades of grey are the best you can get. Leamas thinks he has everything under control, but he soon finds that what he signed up for and what is actually happening could well be two different things. le Carre does this all in 212 pages, which is remarkable. I'm looking forward to continuing on with all his other books, as I expect them to follow in the same vein of tight writing and good storytelling.