20 September, 2020

In A Coven Of Spymasters

An old spy is called up, and an almost cold case dug up. It’s back behind the dreaded curtain in central Europe, against the cold steel of the Stasi.

In A Coven Of Spymasters

Reading John le Carre’s Cold War spy fiction is like savouring a leisurely French meal with vintage wine. It reminds me of manual typewriters, one-time cipher pads and our training during the 1970s to do dead drops at the busy Jain Book Centre or bef­riending strangers at the Coffee House. Compared to that era, modern spying through drones or satellites is a rush job without ‘class’, much like devouring junk food.

Like in his earlier Cold War novels, the same characters are reintroduced in A Legacy of Spies, which is a sequel to the 1963 masterpiece The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. The film version of that had Richard Burton as Alec Leamas, who was the head of the West Berlin station of the Circus. Leamas gets killed along with a female accomplice while crossing the Berlin Wall. A Legacy of Spies gives the full story how this occ­urred. The hunter (Leamas) becomes the hunted while the prey (Stasi killer Dieter Mundt) becomes the hunter.

Cold War operatives like the unnamed...



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