A review from our very own Professor (not of literature) John Walsh.
I have eventually managed to wade through (apologies to Hon Chair) ‘The spy who came in from the cold. For me, my edition was 249 pages too long, a four page summary would have been more than enough. The first quarter-third of the book was interminable; more filler than Homebase! At this point it was on a score of 3. Early in the last third it could have rallied to a ‘foyve’, but ultimately it didn’t.
In the early stages of the book I was thinking cowboys and Indians (thought crime? ed), so was pleased to have this confirmed by Leamus in chapter 25 when he likened it all to cowboys and Indians. Parts of the plot couldn’t hold more water than a broken pisspot (apologies to Fred Trueman); more Clouseau than Intelligence Service. It did have a few more twists and turns than the straighter parts of the Fosse Way, but they didn’t go anywhere that was sufficient to merit reading.
I can’t believe how much critical acclaim the book is said to have had; since Graham Greene said it was the best spy story he ever read, we can only assume it was the only one he ever read! The seven (and a bit) pages of the ‘Fifty Years Later’ postscript in my edition was marginally more interesting than the book.
I give it 4.
John le Walshé
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