A Legacy of Spies

A Legacy of Spies

Book - 2017
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Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, is living out his old age on the family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London are to be scrutinised under disturbing criteria by a generation with no memory of the Cold War and no patience with its justifications.
Publisher: [Toronto] :, Viking,, 2017
ISBN: 9780735234529
0735234523
Characteristics: 264 pages

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t
Twiggzette
May 19, 2019

A very disappointing book. I've always enjoyed le Carré in the past because of the quality, clarity, and beauty of his writing. He has a 1st from Oxford in English Literature --- no mean feat --- and lectured at Eaton, among other educational achievements. Unfortunately, for this book he chose to change his polished writing "voice" to that of a lower class fictional MI6 agent Peter Guillam, who was George Smiley's "go to" guy (along with Toby Esterhase) in le Carré's Smiley books. This new, unpolished voice sounds phony and insincere, to me anyway. Still, I gave the book a chance by flipping forward several times to see if it got "better", and every time it still disappointed me. I couldn't get past the voice to enjoy the tale. I hope that you who read this will. Give the book a try. After all, it's le Carré!

s
smarjano
Feb 26, 2019

This novel fills in the events between "Call for the Dead" and "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold", and fleshes out some of the events of the latter novel. It ignores the intermediate events of "A Murder of Quality" (which involves Smiley, but is not a spy story). There are no new operational surprises in the historic events, but to avoid spoilers dilligent readers should read the two earlier novels and the Karla trilogy first. Assuming the current novel takes place at the the time it is written, the issue of the ages of the surviving protagonists is "poetic license". The enveloping contemporary story is quite good, although I have a feeling that Le Carre was never comfortable with modern technology in spying. In view of Brexit negotiations, Smiley's comments at the end of the novel are quite interesting.

n
NedSu
Jul 29, 2018

Full disclosure: I am of that age wherein the narrator finds himself. By my bias, this is a great story, sprinkled with little bits of tradecraft that reminded me that John Le Carre is the master of the spy novel. Len Deighton's works did not surpass the master, and as much as I love Mick Herron and his Slough Horses, Mick has not matched either the body of work or the quality of writing that still sets the Smiley author apart.
Reading earlier works by Le Carre might help the casual reader, but it does stand alone as a seeming swan song of all of Smiley's People. Hopefully, reading this book might entice a new reader to. Find the old books that evoke this same feeling.

n
northstar5
Apr 06, 2018

In what is probably Le Carre's last book he ties up many loose ends (while still leaving - adding - a few more). A page turner yet somewhat empty. Leaves one longing for his earlier works

w
wiley1827
Apr 04, 2018

Snore.
The great author is 86 and it's time to sit on the porch and smoke his pipe.

Probably his last - he should have left us wanting more - and this ain't it!

d
dirtbag1
Mar 14, 2018

Le Carre is of course a master wordsmith and for that reason alone this book should be read. However I couldn't help but think that if one had not read his earlier works, this would be a difficult story to follow. Has he run out of ideas?

r
richibi
Feb 25, 2018

Le Carré's best works are behind him, I think, this one is a rehash of earlier, better, books, with the accent on "hash"

t
t_naciuk
Feb 21, 2018

One of the most accessible le Carre reads! He draws the reader in to good and bad relations between characters, thankfully keeping the cast to a manageable number.

d
dirtbag
Jan 31, 2018

There is no one who is as good a writer as this guy. This is a must read.

e
EmilyEm
Dec 27, 2017

Book continues the George Smiley canon with Peter Guillam as this book’s central character. Must have read ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ and ‘The Spy who Came in from the Cold’ first.

An intriguing spy story that’s just a bit bogged down by all the old files Peter must peruse. Had a bit of the feel of a swan song as these characters have all gotten older. Hope not.

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