John le Carré’s third novel—A #1 New York Times bestseller for 34 weeks—and the book that launched his career worldwide
In the shadow of the newly erected Berlin Wall, Alec Leamas watches as his last agent is shot dead by East German sentries. For Leamas, the head of Berlin Station, the Cold War is over. As he faces the prospect of retirement or worse—a desk job—Control offers him a unique opportunity for revenge. Assuming the guise of an embittered and dissolute ex-agent, Leamas is set up to trap Mundt, the deputy director of the East German Intelligence Service—with himself as the bait. In the background is George Smiley, ready to make the game play out just as Control wants.
Setting a standard that has never been surpassed, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is a devastating tale of duplicity and espionage.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We can’t think of a better marriage of author and narrator than John le Carré and Michael Jayston. The veteran British character actor, who co-starred in the acclaimed 1979 BBC adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, has exactly the right blend of plummy elegance and steely nerve to capture le Carré’s complex, compromised heroes. And Jayston’s narration of 1963’s The Spy Who Came In from the Cold is absolutely pitch-perfect. Unlike the showboating James Bond, British agent Alec Leamas knows the emotional toll of a life spent under deep cover. (A toll that le Carré, a former intelligence officer, also knew well.) When Leamas takes on a final covert mission in East Berlin before his retirement, he quickly learns that his superiors may be as villainous as his enemies. Bittersweet and unsentimental, this may be the finest spy novel ever written, and Jayston plays Leamas’ world-weariness with great poignancy.