I’m not sure whether this would have been my first choice for what to read next – I read Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carre (yes, after watching the film – the ending of which I thought I’d completely misinterpreted but actually a quick look on Wikipedia tells me I wasn’t totally misinformed – without wanting to give anything away I thought the shooting at the end was a mercy killing of a man by someone who was once his lover – and close friend – which I thought was a really good ending and then after the second or third time I watched it – not sure why I’ve returned to it that often – I decided that that was wrong and the film lost some of its appeal); which I’ll admit I didn’t enjoy as much as the film. I think part of the reason for this is because I was a bit bored and the action of the story wasn’t completely easy to follow, with its ever changing characters and places, so The Spy Who Came in from the Cold does eliminate this confusion somewhat, as its cast and locations are considerably reduced. Either way, my boyfriend bought this after a brief obsession with the Deutschland 83 TV show (brief because he got through all of the episodes so quickly), being keen for more cold war spy thrillers, and wanted me to read it too as soon as he’d finished – I got through most of it on a very boring plane ride yesterday (and it’s a good job I wasn’t travelling from anywhere further afield because I finished 15 minutes before landing and had nothing else to distract me from how hungry I was).
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is part of the George Smiley series – although George doesn’t feature heavily in it himself – set in the fictional Circus of Britain’s overseas intelligence service. I’m not completely sure whether I’m reading these books in the right order – I think there’s one more on the list (Smiley’s People) but I’ve read these two so far apart and chances are it’ll be a while before I start that one that hopefully it won’t matter if I’ve not (also I spoil Tinker Tailor by watching the film first). It follows Alec Leamas (a name which for some reason annoyed me, having to read it over and over again) who worked in the Berlin branch of the Circus but returns to London after having lost his final double agent at the start (I think it’s worth noting that my boyfriend so enjoyed the first chapter where this happens that he stopped reading and made me read it – but then the next time he spoke about it a few days later he complained that after the initial action packed opening the novel had slowed down and descended into mainly conversation).
What follows is Leamas’ attempt to launch one last attack on their German rival Mundt in his final mission for the Circus, which obviously I’m not going to go in to because it would ruin the whole thing – but (as you might expect) the novel is not bereft of twists and turns and although I may not have got through it half as quickly if I hadn’t been trapped on a plane with nothing else to do I did enjoy it (“didn’t hate it” seems too negative a phrase to use here) – especially because it was so much more accessible than Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (I thought) – a quick google tells me this was an earlier novel than the latter so I suppose that makes sense – and it may have been better to read them the other way around to whet my interest with this then move on to Tinker Tailor.
Also, wordpress tells me that today is my one year anniversary of this blog, in which time I’ve got through 45 books (which is interesting if you like attaching statistical worth to your achievements, which I obviously do !) and puts me on track to complete all 1001 books in 16.3 years at this rate (which is not such a happy statistic…)