A book blog about Russia in English-language fiction

Tag: former spy

The Secret Lovers by Charles McCarry (1977)

The standard unit of measurement for writers of spy fiction is ‘the Le Carré’. Almost any half-good new espionage writer gets some blurb on the back of their book calling them ‘the new Le Carré’.

Besides being the only espionage writer whose name rhymes with Le Carré, McCarry, who died in 2019, was one of the few to merit the comparison in terms of quality, and indeed of style.

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Our Kind of Traitor by John Le Carré (2010)

Le Carré books stand out from the crowd. They are atypical in the world of thrillers, and Russia-related thrillers. Not for them the fast-moving plot-based story packed with clichéd characters. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is the finest Russia-related espionage novel ever written. (The Honourable Schoolboy runs it very close, but has little to do with Russia). Whether it is a thriller is a different question. It represents rather the thriller as literature.

Our Kind of Traitor has of course the main Le Carré traits, but, like several of his later books, it is a slighter work than his greatest novels.

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