Category Archives: John le Carre

A MOST WANTED MAN by John le Carré

First published in 2008, this ultra-topical spy thriller by John le Carré (whose work I previously profiled here) deals with money laundering, political asylum, extraordinary rendition and the ambiguities surrounding the tactics used in the ‘war on terror.’ It has … Continue reading

Posted in Espionage, Germany, John le Carre | Tagged | 32 Comments

Top 20 TV Spies

Not everyone agrees, but for me the spy story is definitely a subset of the crime and mystery genre. However, tales of espionage do come in all shapes and sizes: from contemporary to historical, deadly serious like Tinker Tailor Soldier … Continue reading

Posted in Espionage, George Smiley, John le Carre, Len Deighton, London, Mexico, Robert Culp, Rome, Scene of the crime, The Sandbaggers | 61 Comments

Top 20 Spy movies

The release of Ben Affleck’s smart historical satire Argo, based loosely on the true extraction by the CIA and Canadian officials of six American Embassy staff members out of Tehran in 1980, made me reflect on the spy genre as … Continue reading

Posted in 'Best of' lists, Adam Hall, Alfred Hitchcock, Amnesia, Billy Wilder, Brian de Palma, Cold War, Elleston Trevor, Eric Ambler, Espionage, Film Noir, George Smiley, Ian Fleming, James Bond, John Frankenheimer, John le Carre, Len Deighton, London, Michael Powell, New York, Paris, Quiller, San Francisco, Scene of the crime, Spy movies | 76 Comments

CALL FOR THE DEAD (1961) by John le Carré

The recent film adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré, with its impressive rogues gallery of character actors and a mesmerising central turn by Gary Oldman as George Smiley, has re-ignited interest in the series of Cold … Continue reading

Posted in Columbo, Espionage, George Smiley, John le Carre, London, Scene of the crime, Spy movies | 8 Comments

John le Carré at 80

David Cornwell, aka John le Carré, turned 80 yesterday and celebrations are definitely in order. Not only is the feature film adaptation of his 1974 novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy a roaring critical and box office success but he is still publishing new work that is attracting praise from all quarters. A master of the espionage story, he has branched well beyond the constraints of genre fiction to produce work that in its topicality, lucid prose style and in its charting of the decay of the late and unlamented British Empire can certainly bear comparison with that of his great literary mentor and inspiration, Graham Greene. Of his most recent work, The Constant Gardener (2001), a trenchant conspiracy thriller and exposé of the ethics big pharma, he may well have produced his finest work to date, though there is a real bounty to choose from. Continue reading

Posted in 'In praise of ...', Espionage, George Smiley, John le Carre | 3 Comments

Top 100 mystery books (almost)

The plan was to come up with a top 100 that I was prepared to stand by – but I wanted to re-read so many of the books that I might have included but now remembered too vaguely (such as Ngaio Marsh’s output or books like Tey’s hugely popular The Daughter of Time) that I thought I should publish only a partial list. Not to mention finding it a bit hard to just settle on one book by Georges Simenon given the enormity of his output – I have placed a list of 80+ titles on the site and am extremely open to suggestions …

So here are My (Nearly) Top 100 Mystery Books  Continue reading

Gallery | 2 Comments

THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM (1965) by Adam Hall

The Alphabet of Crime community meme over at the Mysteries in Paradise blog this week reaches the letter Q, and my nomination, is …

THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM by Adam Hall

“As I walked back to the hotel the only tracks in the snow were my own.”

1965 was a vintage year for espionage. At the cinema Sean Connery was James Bond for the fourth, and most financially successful, time in Thunderball, Michael Caine was ‘Harry Palmer’ in Len Deighton’s The Ipcress File, John le Carre’s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold was filmed with Richard Burton and Rod Taylor was John Gardner’s The Liquidator; while on TV, Diana Rigg joined Patrick Macnee in The Avengers and The Man from UNCLE went from black and white into colour – and, perhaps the best of their kind, in the UK there was Patrick McGoohan as John Drake in Danger Man and all over the globe one could find I Spy starring Bill Cosby and the late Robert Culp – in fact the genre was doing so well that parodies were already popular, with Carry On Spying (1964) already a hit at the cinemas and Get Smart and Wild Wild West were just getting started on TV.This was also the year that Elleston Trevor as ‘Adam Hall’ began publishing the adventures of his secret agent ‘Quiller’. The first book in the series was originally published in the UK as The Berlin Memorandum but the title was altered under its better known variation The Quiller Memorandum for the US release and as it was also used for the popular movie version, that is how it best known today. Continue reading

Gallery | 16 Comments