The Return of George Smiley

John le Carré is the titan of the thriller. His uncompromising third novel, 1963’s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, almost instantly redefined the genre and established le Carré as the ultimate apparent insider, laying bare the grim politics and realities of the secret world.

For the first time in some twenty five years, sees le Carré return to his most iconic series of stories as George Smiley returns in A Legacy of Spies, a novel that brings the complicities of the Cold War past into the cold light of the present. Peter Guillam, Smiley’s disciple within the covert network of the Circus, finds himself summoned from his Brittany retirement to justify the activities of an era long thought buried. The history of figures such as Alec Leamas, Jim Prideaux, George Smiley and Peter Guillam himself face fresh scrutiny by a new authority with little patience for the motives of yesterday.

To refresh your memory of how great John le Carré is with this genre of writing

My three favourite le Carré novels are

The Russia House - Penguin Modern Classics by John le Carré £9.99 Waterstones (Shop Now)

There's no way out," he announced with satisfaction, "and no amount of wishful dreaming will produce one. The demon won't go back in its bottle, the face-off is for ever, the embrace gets tighter and the toys cleverer with every generation, and there's no such thing for either side as enough security…  We may even con ourselves into believing the threat has gone away. It never will. Never, never, never."

Barley Blair is not a Service man: he is a small-time publisher, a self-destructive soul whose only loves are whisky and jazz. But it was Barley who, one drunken night at a dacha in Peredelkino during the Moscow Book Fair, was befriended by a high-ranking Soviet scientist who could be the greatest asset to the West since perestroika began, and made a promise. Nearly a year later, his drunken promise returns to haunt him. A reluctant Barley is quickly trained by British Intelligence and sent to Moscow to liaise with a go-between, the beautiful Katya. Both are lonely and disillusioned. Each is increasingly certain that if the human race is to have any future, all must betray their countries... In his first post-glasnost spy novel, le Carré captures the effect of a slow and uncertain thaw on ordinary people and on the shadowy puppet-masters who command them

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carré £8.99 Waterstones (Shop Now)

It's the oldest question of all, George. Who can spy on the spies?
George Smiley, a troubled man of infinite compassion, is also a single-mindedly ruthless adversary as a spy. Smiley and his people are facing a remarkable challenge: a mole – a Soviet double agent – who has burrowed his way in and up to the Circus, the highest level of British Intelligence. His treachery has already blown some of their vital operations and their best networks. The mole is one of their own kind. But which one?

Smiley's People by John le Carré £8.99 Waterstones (Shop Now)

‘It’s an emergency, George. You remember Vladimir? George, are you awake? You remember the old General?’ The phone call that dragged George Smiley, acting Chief of the Circus, from his bed was a plea to return to active service. But only to bury the case, not to solve it…

The murdered man had been an agent - once, long ago. But George Smiley's superiors at the Secret Service want to see the crime buried, not solved. Smiley will not leave it at that, not when might lead him all the way to Karla, the elusive Soviet spymaster… Smiley's People, the thrilling final confrontation between one of the most famous spies in all fiction and his Cold War rival, Karla, was the bestselling novel of 1979, and like Tinker Tailor, Soldier Spy, was later dramatized by the BBC, with Alec Guinness starring as the eponymous Smiley.
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