Friday, 15 June 2018

Legacy of Spies - John Le Carre

A master storyteller work that did not work for me

Le Carre is often called as a literary great when it comes to spy stories. His best known one "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold" is supposed to be a classic and it is often recommended as the introduction to his works. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is another popular book that has been adapted for the big screen many times. I watched the latest TV series and rather enjoyed it.

Having read all the big reviews, I felt I was really missing out by not reading his books. More so because his new book came out recently after a gap, which resurrected all his earlier ones. Apparently, his latest one was also a hit with the likes of Gordon Brown talking of how accurate his observations were.

With all this hoopla around the writer, I finally decided to go for one of his latest ones, although it followed on from his earlier books.


The past has come back to haunt Peter Guillam, one of the aides of Smiley. The new management at MI6, an attempt to protect its reputation, is keen to find out about Operation Windfall. Guilliam is tracked down and asked to account for the various anomalies during the operation.  While Guilliam gives them explanation, we as the reader are taken into confidence as he reveals his own parallel verison to the reader.

What works:
  • The writing style is interesting. The reader is taken into confidence as the version of events unfold. Usually the reader is told of the events, here she is the confidante, privy to the actual set of events.
What doesn't:
  • The writing gets quite dry at times and you are left wondering where is it leading to. Perhaps Le Carre's writing style needs getting used to. 
  • It is a bit of a laborious read. The pace is slow and since much of the story is told in reverse, the story lags in between, leading to wavering attention.
  • It will help if you are familiar with the characters, I was not. I had only seen the TV and on screen adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy which was more like a standalone story.
  • I struggled with some bits and even getting to the end, felt a bit dragged along.
Not the greatest of reading experiences, I am afraid. 

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