Friday, May 25, 2018
John le Carré - The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
It is, of course, nearly impossible to review this book without giving away plot details. But the atmosphere for dull, grey 1960s London is worth mentioning. Beef tea, tinned chicken and cold single rooms warmed by a weak gas fire...it's not just the interrogations that are chilly. You get a real sense of Britain at the end of it's imperial greatness... it's neighborhoods are dirty, it's airports and bars grim and utilitarian. Even the drinks are bland. Everyone is tired and fed up. Even the activists of the Communist Party groups fake their paper sales figures so they can go home early.
Its a wonderful novel. It's so perfect that when they filmed it they barely seemed to change a scene. By turns punchy and shocking, and ultimately deeply tragic. This is spycraft stripped bare of any glamour - lies and counter lies, bureacracy gone mad, cowardly murders and every sentence uttered mined for information. Its not James Bond, its something far more real.
le Carré - A Small Town in Germany
le Carré - A Murder of Quality