Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of
book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the works they
enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your
cappuccino and join in the fun. If you wish to add your own review to
the conversation, please sign on to the link list at the end of my post.
Title: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
Author: John le Carré
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
was John le Carré's third novel and his international breakthrough. George Smiley is back, though this time in a supporting role. The story focuses instead on Alec Leamas, a longtime Berlin operative now burned out and eager to get out of the game. The British Secret Service has one more job for him: a chance for revenge against his nemesis.
Given its stature within the genre, my expectations for the book were high. I am pleased to say they were met. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
takes all of the glitzy romance out of the espionage game. Long gone are Bond's clever gadgets, exotic locations and supermodel lovers. Le Carré's world is gritty, grungy and a lot more real. Death, pain, betrayal and humiliation are all cold bureaucratic necessities. So are tedium, detachment and loneliness. In much the way GoodFellas
did for mobsters, le Carré's novels reveal spooks to be more like your next-door neighbors than celluloid demigods. Leamas's tale is entirely believable, which is exactly why it's so terrifying.
Parallels with The Night Manager
, a more recent le Carré work (review here
), are really interesting. The two stories follow similar narrative patterns - a desire for revenge, the building of a cover, a complicating entanglement with a woman, etc. The basic structure is close enough that one wonders if the author deliberately created an updated, more glamorous (more Bondish?) version of his masterpiece.
Please join us and share your own review of your best read from the past
month. This month's link list is below. I'll keep it open until the
end of the day. I'll post February's tomorrow. Meetings are the last
Friday of each month. Next gathering is February 23rd.