The iconic spy writer, author of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, returns to the world of George Smiley for the first time in more than twenty-five years, this time focusing on Smiley's former protégé, who is summoned to London to answer questions about a Cold War mission gone wrong.
le Carre again stakes his claim as the only contemporary spy novelist who really matters. In revisiting The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, le Carre gets to peel back its narrative to reveal juicy new details, with no lack of dark humor. He also gets to frame the story in the consciousness of a new era. His central theme, more potent than ever, is 'how much of our human feeling can we dispense with in the name of freedom ... before we cease to feel either human or free?' Or, how long will it be before the violence we commit in the name of peace and religion destroy those values? A kind of eulogy for the present as well as the past, A Legacy of Spies is haunting in the way it downgrades human connections and casts out Peter Guillam from a hopeful existence.
A Legacy of Spies brings it all back, as fresh and as rancid as ever, in a tale that shows the master in the full vigour of his old mastery ... satisfies not only by being vintage Le Carré, which it is, but in the way in which it so neatly and ingeniously closes the circle of the author’s long career ... The plot of the new book is derived from and intricately woven into that of its predecessor. This is an immensely clever piece of novelistic engineering, of which its deviser can be justifiably proud. The ingenuity and skill with which the thing is brought off is breathtaking – really, not since The Spy has Le Carré exercised his gift as a storyteller so powerfully and to such thrilling effect.
The good news about A Legacy of Spies is that it delivers a writer in full. Le Carré’s prose remains brisk and lapidary. His wit is intact and rolls as if on casters. He is as profitably interested as ever in values, especially the places where loyalty, patriotism and affection rub together and fray. He wears his gravitas lightly ... There’s a distant oink of male chauvinism in this tweedy novel, one that goes beyond establishing the sexual atmosphere of swinging ’60s-era Britain ... Le Carré is not of my generation but I have read him for long enough to understand how, for many readers, his characters are old friends — part of their mental furniture. There’s something moving about seeing him revive them so effortlessly, to see that the old magic still holds. He thinks internationally but feels domestically. In an upside-down time, he appeals to comprehension rather than instinct. I might as well say it: to read this simmering novel is to come in from the cold.