John le Carre's 'The Spy Who Came In From The Cold' is a precise, calculating thriller following the exploits of a British spy carrying out his final mission for Her Majesty's Secret Service. Written at the height of the Cold War, the book gives an accurate insight into espionage during the 1950s and 60s. The story is always interesting and everything le Carre describes is for a purpose, some of which is not immediately apparent at the time but makes sense later. The writer paints the scenes he describes with clarity and distinction, and the characters are very believable. The plot itself is a carefully planned one and allows the reader to constantly come up with ideas about what may be happening before blowing them away when you think you have solved. The fact that the book was written in the early 1960s means that some sections are quite politically incorrect. However at all times this gives an authentic edge to the story, as it accurately describes people of that day and age. The level of thought and detail le Carre has put into the book is impressive. Overall, this is one of the best spy novels I have read. Although there is little in the way of Bond-style action, the psychological twists and turns in it makes for a more genuine, tense story. If you are looking for an alternative to contemporary Tom Clancy-style tech-spy-thrillers, le Carre's works are a must-read.
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