Running Time 9hrs 33mins
The greatest chronicler of the age turns his incisive gaze to the tumultuous present in this superb new thriller.
‘No writer has ever been better at turning the act of two people talking politely to each other across a desk into a blood sport’ Telegraph
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 bright light on the team is young Florence, who has her eye on Russia Department and a Ukrainian oligarch with a finger in the Russia pie.
Nat is not only a spy, he is a passionate badminton player. His regular Monday evening opponent is half his age: the introspective and solitary Ed. Ed hates Brexit, hates Trump and hates his job at some soulless media agency. And it is Ed, of all unlikely people, who will take Prue, Florence and Nat himself down the path of political anger that will ensnare them all. Agent Running in the Field is a chilling portrait of our time, now heart-breaking, now darkly humorous, told to us with unflagging tension by the greatest chronicler of our age.
John le Carre was born in 1931. For six decades, he wrote novels that came to define our age. The son of a confidence trickster, he spent his childhood between boarding school and the London underworld. At sixteen he found refuge at the university of Bern, then later at Oxford. A spell of teaching at Eton led him to a short career in British Intelligence (MI5&6). He published his debut novel, Call for the Dead, in 1961 while still a secret servant. His third novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, secured him a worldwide reputation, which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley’s People. At the end of the Cold War, le Carre widened his scope to explore an international landscape including the arms trade and the War on Terror. His memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel, was published in 2016 and the last George Smiley novel, A Legacy of Spies, appeared in 2017. He died on 12 December 2020.
‘A fine piece of storytelling. It is a neat, compact, slow-burning tale with just the right amount of twisting and turning and misdirection. Divided loyalties, uncertain motives, Russian agents, bureaucratic infighting, jaded spies, tatty offices – all of the things you want and expect from a high-quality le Carre thriller are here’ The Times
‘A very classy entertainment about political ideals and deception . . . laced with fury at the senseless vandalism of Brexit and of Trump. Le Carre is the master of the spy genre.’ Steven Poole, Guardian
‘Le Carre delivers a tale for our times, replete with the classic seasoning of betrayal, secret state shenanigans and sad-eyed human frailty, all baked into an oven-hot contemporary thriller . . . Agent Running in the Field is right on the money, in psychology as much as politics, a demonstration of the British spy thriller at its unputdownable best’ Robert McCrum, Observer
‘As ingeniously structured as any of le Carre’s fiction, skilfully misdirecting the reader for much of the time’ Evening Standard