Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review: "The Spy Who Came In From the Cold" by John Le Carre

The one problem I run into a lot when reading certain genre fiction is that I sometimes do not get certain aspects of a particular profession of lifestyle well enough. It is the reason that I do not read much science fiction. I tend to lose sight of the plot in endless descriptions of actions and objects I am not familiar with using jargon I am even more unfamiliar with. I am not knocking that kind of writing style. I commend it because I couldn’t do it. It is at total fault with the reader, me, and not with someone with a great imagination. I found out recently that you could apply that trait to the spy novel as well, which can explain my thoughts on John Le Carre’s The Spy Who Came In From the Cold. I really dug on certain parts of this book, but other times I was left scratching my head as to what was going on and why. It starts of really good, with the death of one of Alec Leamas’ agent as he tries to cross the Berlin Wall. It is a tense scene filled with tangible hope but an even bigger sense of inevitable defeat. Crushed by this, Alec is called back to The Circus, and assigned to become a double agent sent to lure the enemy, a treacherous spy named Mundt, to capture. What makes this book really cool is its atmosphere. It is like something Camus would write if he was a former spy. It is filled with existential anguish and a sense of brutal fatalism about what life is like in a world where you cannot form true relationships, and everyone truly does not care about you. I just got bogged down in the meat of what was driving everything towards a harsh conclusion. If you can get past that, this book is a treat.
Rating: 4/5

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