Joe's Reviews > A Perfect Spy

A Perfect Spy by John le Carré
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's review
Aug 01, 2009

really liked it
Read in September, 2009

This is supposed to be Le Carre’s best book and probably my favourite of the four I’ve read so far. It is more a piece of reflective literature than Cold War thriller. The novel charts the life and career of Magnus Pym and in particular his relationship as a boy and young man with his confidence trickster father. These flashbacks are juxtaposed with the present where as a diplomat and double agent he has gone missing from the British authorities as well as his Czech controller.

As with Le Carre’s other books the life of a spy is definitely not heroic. Rather, Pym inhabits a world of duplicity and the mentally dysfunctional and over ambitious. There seems to be little purpose other than the game itself and for Pym a continuous sense that the false edifice of his life will fall away.

I was impressed by this novel. The character of Pym is convincing and for all his sometimes frivolous duplicity and conceit you still root for him. I bought this book in the expectation of getting a very decent spy thriller for my holiday, but ended-up with a rather accomplished piece of literary fiction that certainly changed my view of Le Carre as a writer.

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