A Legacy of Spies by John Le Carré

After many years, John Le Carré has added another chapter to the George Smiley story with ‘A Legacy of Spies’. The series was very much based around the cold war, so I thought I’d seen the last of Smiley. But, those now running the Circus are digging up the secrets of the past.

Le Carré’s novel ‘The Spy Who Came in From the Cold’ describes an operation which resulted in the tragic deaths of Agents Alec Leamus and Elizabeth Gold. Now 50 years later, their descendants are questioning their deaths and suggesting that they resulted from betrayal. Peter Guillam, now an old man, is called to London to answer to the new generation at the circus.

As Guillam travels through the old secret documents, we revisit the past at yet another level. And with the past, we once again get to meet the characters from that era – Smiley, Guillam, Leamus, Bill Hayden, Jim Prideux, Hans Dieter Mundt and many others.


I enjoyed this novel but much of my enjoyment came from having read most of the George Smiley novels in the past and in particular ‘The Spy Who Came in From the Cold’. Without knowing the characters and the events, this novel would probably have lost much of its meaning.

The novel contained a brief appearance by George Smiley who was amazingly sprightly for someone who must be at least 90.

I found the ending a bit abrupt. I even re-read the last few chapters to see if I’d missed something.

As with all John Le Carré novels, this one needs to be read with concentration and care. But if you’re a fan of the George Smiley novels, then you’ll enjoy this one.


Book Published 2017


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