Tuesday, 5 June 2018

A legacy of spying

As well as Golden Age detective novels another literature love of mine is the spy novel, especially those by John LeCarré and Len Deighton. A few weeks ago I read the latest by the former, A Legacy of Spies. The story acts as a prequel to The Spy Who Came in from the Cold as well as a way of wrapping up the George Smiley saga which of course was at it's height with the peerless Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy.

The story involves old skool spying: dead letter drops, surveillance, micro dots, double agents. Set in Berlin just before and after the raising of the wall. It was a bleak time for Europe, so many human tragedies amid the brutality of the Cold War. The superpowers jockeying for position, endlessly testing each other's will and resolve. The threat of nuclear obliteration a very real one. My early years were spent under that spectre like so many people. Maybe that is one of the reasons I like these spy stories so much, a kind of nostalgia!

The book isn't perfect but is a fitting way to tie up so many threads, if you read it I highly recommend (re)reading The Spy... first though!
The fallen Berlin wall, scan from original photo I took