The Spy Who Came in From the Cold – John le Carré

We have to live without sympathy, don’t we? That’s impossible, of course. We act it to one another, all this hardness; but we aren’t like that really. I mean … one can’t be out in the cold all the time; one has to come in from the cold.” (page 15)

Title: The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
Written by: John le Carré
Genre: Spy Novel.
Publisher: Victor Gollancz and Pan
Publication Date: September 1963
Paperback: 240 pages

*I wrote this review back in January and have been saving it because IMDB states there is a remake of the 1965 movie coming out this year. However, since there has been no new updates for “said” remake in over eight months, I’m giving up on waiting for the mini-series to be released.*

Every agent under his command has been killed, and Alec Lemus wants nothing more than to return home to end his career. However, once back in London, Control gives Lemus one last assignment: bring down Hans-Dieter Mundt, leader of the East German Secret Service. For the final time, Lemus is thrown into the tangled web of deceit, double agents, espionage, and hellish cold.

I tried to describe this book to my mom but found I had no words.

For the first two-thirds of the pages I was completely confused about what was happening. Slowly, I began to think I understood, but then I reached the last thirty or so pages and the world was ripped out from under me as I truly saw the man behind the iron curtain.

This book is haunting, terrible, and beautiful.

The characters are raw, real human beings who can’t be sorted into nice and neat, black and white boxes.

No one is innocent and yet everyone is.

The plot twist has a plot twist, the action (when it comes) is fast paced, and yet we have time to pounder the value of a single human life.

Even though a large portion of the book is confusing, le Carré makes up for it with such a striking ending.

To me it is no wonder The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is heralded as one of the top ten best spy novels.

I highly recommend this book to adults who love books about espionage, foreign affairs, or the Cold War.

For More Information about the Book and Author Click: HERE

Age Range: 14 and older


Violence: Serval people are shot. Lemus hits a man for no apparent reason. A guard is killed during a fight (While the method of death is gruesome I found this scene more disturbing than graphic.). Lemus is tortured. A man is left to be killed while others escape.

Sensuality: Lemus goes to a club with a striper and muses about her beauty. Lemus and Liz kiss, and spend the night together.

Profanity: Lots.  (sorry for the vagueness on this. I wrote this review a long time ago when I didn’t think writing down the exact curse words was necessary.)

Other(drugs/alcohol): Lemus drinks heavily. Lots of people drink various alcooholic beverages throughout the story. Lemus divorced his wife. Lemus is an atheist. Lemus and Fiedler discuss the philosophy of the Circus, and of the Communists. Lemus feels no remorse for his crimes. Lots of lying, and blackmailing.

Personal Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Cleanness Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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