The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (Used Book) - John Le Carre
It would be an international crime to reveal too much of the jeweled clockwork plot of Le Carré's 1st masterpiece, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. But we're at liberty to disclose that Graham Greene called it the "finest spy story ever written," & that the taut tale concerns Alec Leamas, a British agent in early Cold War Berlin. Leamas is responsible for keeping the double agents under his care undercover & alive, but East Germans start killing them, so he gets called back to London by Control, his spy master. Yet instead of giving Leamas the boot, Control gives him a scary assignment: play the part of a disgraced agent, a sodden failure everybody whispers about. Control sends him back out into the cold--deep into Communist territory to checkmate the bad-guy spies on the other side. The political chessboard is black & white, but in human terms the vicinity of the Berlin Wall is a moral no-man's land, a gray abyss patrolled by pawns. Le Carré beats most spy writers for two reasons. 1st, he knows what he's talking about, since he raced around working for British Intelligence while the Wall went up. He's familiar with spycraft's fascinations, but also with the fact that it leaves ideals shaken & emotions stirred. 2nd, his literary tone has deep autobiographical roots. Spying is about betrayal, & Le Carré was abandoned by his mother & betrayed by his father, a notorious con man.