I finished Georgina Harding's very eloquent (and a very good read, which I will write about later in the week) The Spy Game. It was 'sort of' a spy novel, in a peripheral sort of way. It's the sort of novel that even if you aren't into spy stories, I think you might like. Now to continue on with my season of spies, I thought it was time to get to a few classics of the genre. Actually I had all but decided to pick up a novel about the 1930s Cambridge spy ring, but sifting through a pile, and reading reviews made me decide to change tack just a little. I'm going to try and give both sexes equal opportunity here, so the spy in question in the Harding novel was a woman, now on to the men (no worries, if all goes as planned there will be more women before I'm done).
John Le Carré surely must be 'The' name when it comes to spy novels, and I have yet to read him. When I was looking up his books someone called his character George Smiley an antihero, and the antithesis of the suave James Bond. So, why not read them as a pair? I've read Ian Fleming before but not Le Carré. Both are just under 200 pages, though I am not sure what periods they cover. It will be fun to compare and contrast the two. And if I keep on with pairs, I have two novels that deal with the Cambridge spy ring as well, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
As I've just decided on the books I have yet to actually begin reading, so here's a teaser from Ian Fleming's Casino Royale and John Le Carré's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Good winter reading, I think.
"The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul-erosion produced by high gambling--a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension--becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it."
"James Bond suddenly knew that he was tired. He always knew when his body or mind had had enough and he always acted on the knowledge. This helped him to avoid staleness and the sensual bluntness that breeds mistakes."
"The American handed Leamas another cup of coffee and said, 'Why don't you go back and sleep? We can ring you if he shows up'."
"Leamas said nothing, just stared through the window of the checkpoint, along the empty street."
"'You can't wait forever, sir. Maybe he'll come some other time. We can have the polizei contact the Agency: you can be back here in twenty minutes'."
"'No,' said Leamas, 'it's nearly dark now'."
"'But you can't wait for ever; he's nine hours over schedule'."
"'If you want to go, go. You've been very good,' Leamas added. 'I'll tell Kramer you've been damn' good'."
"'But how long will you wait?'"
"'Until he comes'. Leamas walked to the observation window and stood between the two motionless policemen. Their binoculars were trained on the Eastern checkpoint."
I suspect they are waiting for the spy to come in from the cold?
I know it probably sounds silly, but I do love a good spy story. Maybe I'll have to watch a few movies, too. Any favorites?