Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 01/27/18 5:38 AM

Book review: A Legacy of Spies by John le Carre

This is more a brief take than a review of the book.

If every bit of the buzz about the latest (and last?) le Carre is only about the fact that that he brings George Smiley back, well, it`s setting up the reader for something of a disappointment.

Truth to tell, that’s not the only disappointment lurking within the pages of A Legacy of Spies.

The plot, that of an imminent  current time parliamentary hearing about Cold War deaths,  is wafer-thin, just as the threat of revenge and retribution from the children of those spies who died those dishonourable deaths, isn’t too well-fleshed out either, despite the switching back and forth from Those Days to today`s MI5.  The action is more contemplative and ruminative than dodging down back alleys, though there is a smidgen of that, too.

But the characterisation, mainly of the aged protagonist Peter Guillam who apparently was something of a ladies` man/spy in his time, apart from being one of Smiley`s trusted team members, is spot-on; the language is vintage le Carre (oh joyous joy!) and then, there`s the nostalgia factor: would you really miss out on reading about the old days of skulduggery in the Service?!

All the old `uns find mention or make an appearance here: Alec Leamas, Karla, Bill Haydon, Peter Guillam and of course G Smiley. So, do read the book; only, don’t seek answers to that great `why,` not  in this book at least. At 85, is the greatest writer of spy thrillers still on a hot streak? Well, let`s put it this way, it’s a very, very warm streak if not exactly a scorching one.


A Legacy of SpiesCold WarespionageGeorge SmileyJohn le Carrespy thriller

Sheila Kumar • January 27, 2018

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