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David Cornwell aka John le Carré already had two novels under his belt when this one was published, but this is the book that made him as it were, with critical success as well as becoming a bestseller, and a book that many of us have read a few times over the years.

Here we meet Alec Leamus, who losing his best intelligence source from East Germany is called back to the Circus. Whilst there a plot is created to what looks like bring down the serving head of the East German Secret Service. Thus Leamus takes to his new role, whilst all hope that things will go according to plan.

We thus read of what happens next, and as it starts to dawn on Alec, perhaps he is in way above his head with subtleties appearing and other inconsistencies in the plot. Le Carré is clever here in that although this seems to be an easy read there is a lot of complexity to the story, as he reveals only bits of the plan as we go along, leaving us as much in the dark as Leamus. This works very well as it gives us an appreciation and feel for the paranoia and unease that you would expect from such a situation, when you start to discover that what you think is planned isn’t quite the whole story.

Raising the question of whether the good guys should behave in a much better and grander way than the bad guys, this is still something that is discussed continually and no doubt will be for evermore. It is given then a feeling of authenticity and becomes believable as this is a tale not of black and white, but of grey, and let’s face it there are lots of things that fall into a grey murky world all around us.

In all then this is always a joy to read, showing the complexities, morals and ethics that are raised in something like Intelligence work and wars, and the price that has to be paid. This is then quite deep and thoughtful and would probably make a good choice for book groups.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 8 June 2017
A wonderful John le Carre novel. I'm into crime and spy genres so when I finished the latest Peter James a friend suggest this classic John le Carre tale and I wasn't disappointed. It does have a complex plot as pointed out in other reviews but its written in such a gripping and easy to follow way that you don't find yourself getting so confused you give up. Instead, it keeps you reading along with the fast pace of the story, then before you know it its over and your left wanting more. I certainly look forward to reading more of his books.

Penguin has also done a brilliant job with the modern design of the cover.
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on 28 December 2016
My first le Carre novel. Initially I had to keep reminding myself when this book is set as I felt like I was reading a book set in a much earlier time. It was great for a change to read a short, self contained novel (although it is part of a series).
It's the sort of book that once you've finished, you immediately want to go back and read it again to check you followed things correctly. There's lots of twists and turns, but they felt natural and believable unlike some current books that seem so hell bent on 'the twist' at any cost that the plot suffers and it all becomes too far fetched.

The book reminded me of The 39 Steps by John Buchan, which I equally enjoyed.
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on 23 March 2017
I moved onto this after enjoying The Night Manager even more than the BBC's superb adaptation of it. I had read that "... Cold" was in Le Carre's top three so my expectations were high. Utterly surpassed on reading. The final 20% is simply thrilling. Can't recommend highly enough.
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on 16 March 2017
Classic Le Carre plot, complex but so well written it is easy to follow. Characters well developed and easy to relate to. Brushes with some of the ethical issues around espionage and the limits of behaviour that are reasonable for a nation state.
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on 17 June 2014
This disturbing novel removes not only the glamour but also moral compass of simpler spy stories. What is real? What is true? Who is a goodie or baddie?
We are in a world where the balance of power produces two amoral machines, discreet and professional, machines which, though owned by opposing camps, are hardly distinguishable.
So clever, so well funded, so secret, but ultimately pointless.
Le Carre is the master of his genre. Liz represents the one real soul in a dead and deadly game, Lemass knows this, but has long since lost his Faith, lost his soul. Paradoxically though 'dead' he lives on, while Liz dies at the Wall, a Lamb of Sacrifice.
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on 17 April 2017
Brilliantly complicated but utterly compelling. Who cares if a character is hard to like when the writing's this good? Not me.
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on 8 June 2017
We read this in our book group and discussion between ourselves revealed the depth and moral dilemma. Worth a second read
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on 28 March 2017
I know its been said by others about many, but I found this book a real page turner. Just top draw Mr le carre
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on 26 June 2017
Excellent book by a really intelligent Author, well worth a read.
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