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Agent Running in the Field

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,940 ratings  ·  260 reviews
Nat, a 47 year-old veteran of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, believes his years as an agent runner are over. He is back in London with his wife, the long-suffering Prue. But with the growing threat from Moscow Centre, the office has one more job for him. Nat is to take over The Haven, a defunct substation of London General with a rag-tag band of spies. The only bri ...more
Paperback, 281 pages
Published October 17th 2019 by Viking
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Larry Fontenot As Nat watched the conversation between Ed and the Russian Valentina/Gamma, he realized that Ed was mistakenly thinking he was still dealing with the…moreAs Nat watched the conversation between Ed and the Russian Valentina/Gamma, he realized that Ed was mistakenly thinking he was still dealing with the Germans, a nationality he loves. He had no idea that Valentina was faking as a German. So once Florence finishes clueing Ed in, Ed will ccertainly not continue as spy for Russia. Nat, in turn, tells nothing of his suspicions to Bryn. Instead, he plots with Prue and Florence to create a way for the newlyweds to at least temporarily escape the clutches of the Russians or British secret service. What I had hoped in the end (and will probably occur "off stage") is that Nat fills Bryn in on Ed's mistake and Bryn realizes that Nat is still brilliant and puts him in place of Dom, especially if Nat figures out a way to inform Bryn on how Dom's wife scuttled the Rosebud plan.(less)
cool breeze This book is a stand-alone novel, so there are no prerequisites. It is also a stinker, his worst novel ever. It is an incredibly heavy-handed diatribe…moreThis book is a stand-alone novel, so there are no prerequisites. It is also a stinker, his worst novel ever. It is an incredibly heavy-handed diatribe against Brexit, Trump, patriotism and religion.

Le Carré’s previous novel, A Legacy of Spies (2017), was his only good novel since The Constant Gardener (2001), and is worth reading. It is the last in the George Smiley series, so the publication order is:

Call for the Dead (1961), A Murder of Quality (1962), The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963), The Looking Glass War (1965), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1974), The Honourable Schoolboy (1977), Smiley's People (1979), The Secret Pilgrim (1990), and A Legacy of Spies (2017).

For someone getting back into le Carré, I recommend reading anything that you missed in his pre-2001 back catalogue, plus A Legacy of Spies (2017) and his non-fiction The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life (2016). His other six post-2001 novels are awful disappointments.(less)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spies, thriller
”I possess a rugged charm and the accessible personality of a man of the world. I am in appearance and manner a British archetype, capable of fluent and persuasive argument in the short term. I adapt to circumstance and have no insuperable moral scruples. I can be irascible and am not by any means immune to female charms. I am not naturally suited to deskwork or the sedentary life, which is the understatement of all time. I can be headstrong and do not respond naturally to discipline. This can be both a defect and a virtue.”

After decades of assignments overseas, Nat is finally back
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
"Nothing endures that is not fought for."
- John le Carré , Agent Running in the Field


OK Boomer.

First, amazement. I can't believe JlC is still writing great fiction at 88. There are several writers who I feel the weight of time heavy on (John le Carré, John McPhee, and Robert Caro). They all happen to be some of my favorite writers ever, so anytime one of them writclass="gr-hostedUserImg">
Tea Jovanović
Maestro of written word... Ingredients of this spy novel are all current goings on... It's hard to be objective for someone who has been his Serbian editor for years... Pure spy novel pleasure mixed with lingustic pleasure...
Sep 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the age of eighty-eight, there is no doubt that the John Le Carre that I revere is fully present. The narrative voice employed in this novel is fantastic, as we follow a middle-aged spy who has come in from abroad and is stationed in a dead-end job in London (think a more serious version of Mick Herron's Slough House). And interesting questions are raised about what loyalty to country means in the age of Brexit and Trump. But Le Carre does not hit a home run with every book; the story told he ...more
Roman Clodia
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a slightly slow start, this turns around at about the 50% mark and suddenly becomes utterly gripping - in a I-can't-sleep-till-I've-finished-this kind of way. And when I say 'slow' about the start, I mean slow in a good way, not dull and crawling.

We're no longer in Smiley's world and while some of the old skool types are still around, The Office (no longer The Circus) is far more inclusive (to some extent): we have female Florence, our narrator has a Guardian-reading lawyer/activist wife,
Linda Bond
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With everything that’s going on in our world today, it’s hard to imagine anyone being able to put together a great spy story that takes it all in. But, of course, John Le Carré is up to the task. He gives us a mid-life agent who thinks he’s semi-retired, except he’s not. Instead he has to take on the task of running a slightly off-kilter enclave in London that’s about to get itself into very hot water. Nat and his wife Prue, plus energetic devotee Florence, are about to follow the angry Ed down ...more
Dana Stabenow
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book last night and went to bed thinking about it and woke up thinking about it and it's been a while since a book made me think this long or this hard. It reminds me of Robert Heinlein's novella "If This Goes On." Heinlein's novella is more of a prequel to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale but Le Carre's novel is the same kind of "if this goes on this is what happens next."

Le Carre is looking at Trump and Brexit through the eyes of spies and if this goes on what happ
Oct 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I tend to rate books by my favourite authors a bit more harshly than usual, so a le Carré 3* is probably worth a 4* by another author. As with the rest of his oeuvres, I devoured this quickly and relished that JlC brand of intrigue bubbling under the surface. That said, I felt that this book ultimately fell short in a number of aspects.

There were moments of greatness: enjoyable tradecraft, simmerings of wider conspiracies and twisty-turny character motivations that kept you guessing. But I don'
Kathleen Gray
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm torn about this latest from the best espionage writer ever. On the one hand, there's considerable pleasure in reading the complex mystery Le Carre has created. He's nailed it, once again, on the details of espionage, counterintelligence, counterespionage, internal politics, and so on. On the other, the subplot of how awful Donald Trump and Brexit are and that this is a reason to commit treason left me cold. Yes, it's a legitimate and no doubt real reason for some but it made this less escapi ...more
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Much has been made about this novel--set in 2018--being John le Carré's Brexit and Trump novel, and the fury with which it was written. And, while that is true to a certain extent, and even plays a crucial role in the plot, it isn't a scathing polemic on the matter. What I believe will happen is left-leaning reviewers will praise it, and right-leaning reviewers will condemn it, solely on political grounds. What you won't be hearing in all the hubbub, though, is a lot of praise for its literary m ...more
Manuel Antão
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Englishness: "Agent Running in the Field" by John le Carré

After more than 10 years attending the British Council I feel only half English now at best and even that is waning. The other half I associate with things like football hooliganism, small mindedness, nationalism, old white blokes spouting shite in decaying working men's clubs, establishment rabble rousers and middle England (those have always bee
Jack Horan
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The man's still got it
A new novel from John LeCarre! This fall is shaping up to be a great reading period! The book pubs October 22, 2019.

Just started and it's already good, of course.....
Paul Bartusiak
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Le Carre Takes a Side or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Service

It's a play on Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove , for the not quite initiated. Of course Kubrick loved war no more than Cornwell (d/b/a Le Carre) loved the warped sensibilities of a frustrated, weathered, compromised secret service.

But Le Carre's taken a side. He even dropped the words "Deep State" into the mix. It's fascinating to contemplate. In my line of work I've been personally involved in matters that have been repo
...more Mystery & Thriller
John le Carré, the bestselling author of more than two dozen Cold War-era spy novels, rose to fame in 1963 with the creation of the British secret agent George Smiley in THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD. This bombshell novel was promptly turned into a movie (still available for streaming) starring Richard Burton. His filmography contains more books-to-movies and TV series over decades than we can list here, starring some of the biggest names in Hollywood.

Who better to cast a discern
Le Carre's narration of his latest book is another exception to my rule that authors shouldn't narrate their own books. This is the complicated story of Ned, a world-weary spy in his late 40s, returning to London after years in the field, and the Service makes clear there's really no place for him. He's too old, too out of touch. So they stick him in charge of a failing London outpost filled with lesser agents and not accomplishing anything. But there he discovers Florence, an agent full of prom ...more
Deon Stonehouse
Nat is an aging spy with three passions, the work he loves, his family, and badminton. His wife, Prue, a respected attorney, has stood by him through all his faraway postings, staying home raising their daughter and building a solid career.

Now back in London, at 47 Nat is afraid he will be put out to pasture. He thrives in the field, has let his work take him away from his family for years as he concentrated on Russia. It was dangerous work that he thought relative to Britain’s national securit
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is grand fun, a wonderful contemporary espionage caper from author John le Carré.
I like it when things change up, and this is definitely a fresh change from his wonderful spy thrillers of the past.
There will be badminton, healing of a marriage, wacky tribunals at the Office, Russian and German spies and some heroic bravery.
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spies
I love John le Carré. I love his voice. I love his people. I love his nuance. I love his wisdom. I love his subtle humour. I love his moral outrage. I love his books.
I loved this book too and was entirely gripped by it for as long as it took to read it. So, as I love all his work, does this one really rate five whole stars? Perhaps not; not for any lapse in quality, but it is a slighter book and while I understood the rather abrupt ending, it left me wanting more.
So the final star, which s
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a short book for Le Carre. It was interesting to read a spy story set in the post-Brexit/post Trump era though, to be honest, UK history has moved on so in the past year that the book felt, well, set in the past.
Good relationships, characters and a plot before the rather silly ending.
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic Le Carré. Just a great spy novel with interesting connections to current events.
Ian Brydon
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John le Carré is widely fêted as one of the greatest writers of spy fiction. Well, that is undeniable, and I wouldn’t question that judgement for a moment. I feel it does, however, rather miss the point John le Carré is simply one of the finest living writers, regardless of genre. No one that I have read has come close to matching either his dissection of the tortured byways of the human psyche, or his majestic, wholly unique mastery of English prose.

He is remarkable, too, for his li
Sid Nuncius
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John le Carré is still a master storyteller and this is a fine, gripping read although it doesn’t have the depth and complexity of some of his greatest books.

Nat, a spy near the end of his career, gets wind of a major Russian operation to recruit a British agent...and even that is probably a bit of a spoiler. More plot details certainly would be, but the heart of this book is principally about attitudes to Brexit and Trump and their effect on Britain. It is fair to say that le Carré
Fran Diamond
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's hard for me to give le Carre any less then 4 stars, just because he is a polished expert in moving a story along and has such a sure hand with his characters. The lead character/narrator is well drawn - Here we have Nat, a middle-aged British spy and Russian expert close to being put out to pasture, with a chance to make something out of one last mediocre assignment. The job seems like it's one thing, but some nice twisty plotting (1, 2, 3 twists pile on), it winds up being something comple ...more
Oct 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have enjoyed le Carré's books written after ca year 2000 less than the older masterpieces (60s through 80s). He is adjusting topics to new times, but the "problem" seems to be that the new settings don't fit his particular style as well as the cold war period at which le Carré excelled.

In Agent Running in the Field Brexit and Trump loom large as themes and motivations for the character. The author's own views shine through as a beacon (it's a mess). And I do not disagree, but also don't think
Symon Vegro
I realise I’m very hard to please. I couldn’t put this book down - literally - and yet have only given it 3 stars. I did think about giving it 4 stars, and then decided that I ought (if these ratings are to mean anything) attempt to define some sort of parameters for each rating (recognising of course that it’s all a bit of fun, and subjective anyway). Thus:

5 stars. Utterly brilliant. Deeply moving and/or inspiring and/or with wonderful characters and/or plots and/or just plain fanta
Paul Ataua
Really enjoyed it, but didn't feel it was one of his major works. It never really got below the surface, and the ending was a little bit disappointing.
Oct 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A new novel from the spy-master should be a thing to treasure, to enjoy, to speak to you. Hmm, I admit to being pretty torn on this one.

Nat works for British Intelligence, running agents. He also, unfortunately, speaks like no-one I can think of, and most of the other characters in the book like to *stress* things at odd moments in conversations. Oh, Nat also happens to be an ace badminton player. Then enter Ed, a cheeky young chap who dares to challenge him...

Oh and ther
Pep Bonet
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I could read Le Carré writing recipes, if he tried Master Chef. I like his language, I like his astonishment at modern use of English, I like his convoluted plots. I think I like about everything. Obviously he can't be the constant genie and has ups and downs. Some days he's better than others. He likes the ideological discussion, the why things are done, where does the loyalty to your country end and where does treason start. Really fascinating subjects. He started writing about a bipolar world ...more
cool breeze
Oct 28, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one, not even those on the Left jonesing for a cheap fix of anti-Brexit / anti-Trump porn
John le Carré was consumed with apoplectic rage against America after 9/11 and didn’t recover sufficiently to write another decent novel until 2017’s A Legacy of Spies. I wondered in 2017 whether he would have another rage stroke over Brexit and Trump. He did, and his writing has again gone into the toilet. He is 88 now and won’t survive another 16-year convalescence.

It takes very few pages to see the signs, and they are not subtle. Some of the diatribe, in order of appearance:

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John le Carré, the pseudonym of David John Moore Cornwell (born 19 October 1931 in Poole, Dorset, England), is an English author of espionage novels. Le Carré has resided in St Buryan, Cornwall, Great Britain, for more than 40 years, where he owns a mile of cliff close to Land's End.

See also: John le Carré - Wikipedia
“It is my considered opinion, that for Britain and Europe, and for liberal democracy across the entire world as a whole, Britain’s departure from the European Union in the time of Donald Trump, and Britain’s consequent unqualified dependence on the United States in an era when the US is heading straight down the road to institutional racism and neo-fascism, is an unmitigated clusterfuck bar none.” 1 likes
“If a traitor doesn’t surprise the shit out of us, he’s no bloody good at his job.” 1 likes
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