This was my first espionage novel and I firmly believe it provided me with a really good start into the genre. Just months ago I had read about a debacle in the newspapers over a Russian double agent Sergei Skripal who was found unconscious along with his daughter in a public space in UK. Many reports followed which revealed that a special chemical weapon was used to poison him and his daughter. Chemical weapons have been banned since a long time and this started a nasty duel of accusations between the UK and Russia. All this drama intrigued me to read more about spies and the secret world of espionage. I came to know about the intense spying games played during the cold war era between different countries. I had seen a Tom Hanks movie – The Bridge of spies, certain scenes of which were etched into my mind. I had also seen Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy many years ago but found it too complex to understand what was going on. At that time I didn’t know that the movie and this book were written by the same author. A simple google search of ‘best spy novels’ revealed that this book fared the top spot of many ‘personal favourites’ lists.
The first chapter fills you with thrill and gives an intense start to the story. The author has the capability of expressing numerous thoughts in few words. He skillfully describes different aspects and draws imagery of any particular scene in concise paragraphs which make the narration fast paced. John Le Carre writes about the moral dilemma many agents face contemplating whether their actions are actually righteous or inhumane. The methods of espionage described here makes you wonder if the author himself has ever played the role of a spy in his real life. The media and the readers during the 60s when the book was first published could not help but ask the author the same. They did not believe him when he confirmed otherwise. I do not disagree with the people given that not only the methods but also the plot is so well written, it makes you think if it really is mere fiction and not an actual life story.