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John le Carré

Telegraph UK selects top ten novels of John le Carré, another huge literary giant for me. I picked The Spy Who Came in From the Cold as my introduction to le Carré. It pretty much makes any list of best thriller, best spy fiction, and best novels with a twist. Graham Greene said it’s the best spy story he had ever read. I was sold. The plot of The Spy Who Came In From The Cold is assembled with more precision than a Swiss watch. The heartless way in which Alec Leamas is manipulated; Control’s ruthless playing of Mundt and Fiedler; and of course the dramatic ending on the Berlin Wall, immortalized in the film starring Richard Burton.

I picked up The Honourable Schoolboy because the cover depicts a junk bobbing in Victoria Harbor, the classic sight of my hometown, Hong Kong. It’s the classic story of contention between MI6 and Russia set in the Far East. It’s predecessor, Tinker Tailor, beats to the insidious rhythm of real-life traitor Kim Philby, whom the author still despises to this day. George Smiley takes center stage in his fifth outing, charged with hunting down a Soviet mole codenamed Gerald.


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