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Publisher's Summary

Over the course of his seemingly irreproachable life, Magnus Pym has been all things to all people: a devoted family man, a trusted colleague, a loyal friend - and the perfect spy. But in the wake of his estranged father's death, Magnus vanishes, and the British Secret Service is up in arms. Is it grief, or is the reason for his disappearance more sinister? And who is the mysterious man with the sad moustache who also seems to be looking for Magnus?
In A Perfect Spy, John le Carré has crafted one of his crowning masterpieces, interweaving a moving and unusual coming-of-age story with a morally tangled chronicle of modern espionage.
With an Introduction by the Author
©1986 David Cornwall (P)2012 Penguin Audio
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Critic Reviews

"Le Carré's best book, and one of the finest English novels of the 20th century." (Philip Pullman)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Darwin8u on 04-13-13

Remembrances of loyalties past

In some of le Carré's novels you feel haunted by the ghosts of Conrad, Greene, Nabokov, etc. In 'The Perfect Spy', I went back and forth about whether le Carré was building this novel to be Dickensian spy novel or a Proustian spy novel.

I still haven't quite figured it out. All I know is that it worked; it was brilliant. It was beset by elements of Proust, Dickens, le Carré's own father, and le Carré himself. In a story about multiple fathers, why can't it be both an ode to Dickens and Proust?

'A Perfect Spy' is a novel about deception (but what spy novel isn't about deception?), memory, love and loyalty. It is a story about the sins of fathers and the absolutions of sons. It is about a character who is on the run without ever leaving a room; a room filled with hidden cabinets, burn boxes, and years and years of secrets and conflict; a room that holds a perfect spy who is running from his past, running from his present, and running from his future.

I've said this before, but I don't ever get tired of preaching it: le Carré is a novelist that WILL be read in 100 years and perhaps in 500 years because he is absolutely tapped into the global zeitgeist of the modern man and the modern nation-state. Le Carré has his finger on the pulse of what we NEED to believe, what we YEARN to believe. He has a story to tell and a map of our often hidden realities.

Le Carré's has baked a madeleine that we eventually all must choke on, because we all eventually get to that point where we refuse to swallow anymore sh!t.

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37 of 41 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Elizabeth on 01-20-16

Struggling through it...

Any additional comments?

I had difficulty getting through and have not finished it yet. I listen to audiobooks while driving, so I need stories that keep my attention - humor, drama, thrillers - but this was too slow for me. I've enjoyed all the other le Carre books I've read (just 4 from the Smiley series) so I expected more of the same. Perhaps I should have read the description and reviews better, because a lengthy and detailed account of a man's childhood did not interest me. I'll probably try it again in the future.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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