The Spy that came in from the Cold by John le Carre

Well isn’t this professional: two weeks after saying I only review fantasy I have suddenly decided to a spy thriller. Well ‘I decided to’ is a misnomer, I more underestimated the length of a Feast of Crows which have led me once again I have found myself having to write about something slightly off topic and clearly spy thrillers are only slightly different to fantasy. So, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold by John Le Carre in British author from the 1960s. Alec Leamas, a British field agent, working in West Berlin loses his last double agent in East Berlin when he’s shot crossing the border on the order of Mundt, a East German agent. To bring Mundt down Leamas decides to frame himself as a double agent working for the Soviet Union. He plans to get himself arrested to get the attention of Fielder, an East German spy, who already thinks Mundt is a spy for the British. Before Leamas does so, he tells his lover, Liz not to follow him no matter what. When he’s released from jail he’s first taken to Holland to discuss what he knows with a man called Peters then to East Germany to meet Feidler and put Mundt on trial. When they do, Mundt uses Liz, Leamas’ communist lover, as a surprise witness who was in Germany for a Communist Party information exchange meeting. After this Leamas admits it was all a set up and he and Fielder are sentenced to be executed. However Mundt lets him and Liz go, Leamas realising that Mundt was an actual double agent and his mission had been to discredit Fiedler. They reach the Berlin Wall and try to climb over but are shot. Perhaps one of the most dense and confusing books I’ve ever read, and I’ve been reading a Feast of Crows, no Kathy, have it for the next review! Actually a pattern maybe occurring in these reviews, with my constant confusion. I hope this will not become a running theme more than it has become already. But as I was saying the plot is incredibly dense. This is because of the writing style used that was popular in the 1960s and 1970s and more specifically John Le Carre. This style uses a lack of exposition and detailing a lot of information in one go with a lot of names and details, kind of like so other authors I know, no bad Kathy! So yes I found the book confusing and yet decided to try and emulate the style, in my own writing. A disastrous decision I assure you, if I found it impossible to read imagine writing it, its hard a this modern age of delivering chapters before the actual plot starts and cut up dialogue to throw that all away. Because of this confusion meant I had no connection to the main characters, and when a character died I couldn’t be upset. Also there were several storylines that kind of went nowhere, like Leamas seeing a car crash with children in the back, its mentions this all throughout the book, even ends with it but goes no where and isn’t needed. However who am I to denounce a classical and beloved book, it clearly just wasn’t for me and yet despite this it effected me so much I decided to use the same writing style as it so clearly it was doing something right.


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