January book reviews

A spy thriller, travel writing, and tales of the past

EDITOR'S CHOICE

A Legacy of Spies, John Le Carré, Penguin Viking, £20; ISBN:978-0-241-30854-7

Once a spy, now quietly retired in Brittany, Peter Guillam battles his demons as he listens to the cattle and hens on his remote farmstead. He has been called to account by the British secret service for a mission that targeted the East German Stasi and caused the deaths of an agent, Alec Leamas (the spy who came in from the cold), and the woman Peter loved.

After a lifetime of learning how to deny plausibly, he must get to the bottom of an affair where he was not on the ‘need to know’ list; or, at least, not on the full version. 

This is classic Le Carré; at times baffling and beguiling but always ominously absorbing. It promises sleepless nights, perhaps for fear of forgetting the turns of the plot but also for the ...

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