John le Carré has earned worldwide acclaim with extraordinary spy novels, including The Russia House, an unequivocal classic.
It is the third summer of perestroika. Barley Blair, London publisher, receives a smuggled document from Moscow. Blair, jazz-loving, drink-marinated, dishevelled, is hardly to the taste of the spymasters, yet he has to be used – sent to the Soviet Union to make contact. Katya, the Moscow intermediary, is beautiful, thoughtful, equally sceptical of all state ideology.
Together, as the safe clichés of hostility disintegrate, they may represent the future – an idea that is anathema to the entrenched espionage professionals on both sides.