A Legacy of Spies
By John Le Carré
Published by Viking (7 September 2017)
Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, has retired to his family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. The reason? His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London are to be scrutinised by a generation with no memory of the Cold War. Somebody must be made to pay for innocent blood once spilt in the name of the greater good.
Interweaving past with present so that each may tell its own story, John le Carré has given us a novel of superb and enduring quality.
There's no doubt that John Le Carré is the master of spy thrillers. Like many people, I grew up reading his books, loving the tension and intrigue of his multi-layered plots and his ability to tell an intelligent spellbinding story.
In A Legacy of Spies, I loved the mix of 'old and new' and 'past and present' and changing values and attitudes (politically and socially) over the years. It was entertaining reading how the younger characters viewed the older ones, and vice versa. The book definitely felt 'old school', with an air of nostalgia. It's as if John Le Carré was pitting his old characters against these new ones to see how they all get on - and who would have the upper hand.
The dialogue is brilliantly written, with sharp observations and descriptions of characters that made me smile. I couldn't help but admire the author's writing, plotting and characterisation. This is a 'must read' for John Le Carré fans.
I have to admit that it's been years since I read one of his books, so I 'almost' read A Legacy of Spies as a standalone. It would probably have made sense if I had recapped on The Spy Who Came in from the Cold first, as there are many references to this and previous major characters. I did struggle in a few places to understand what was going on. But some memories of past books did come flooding back, and this has now prompted me to pull the older books off the shelf.
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