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John le Carré. Viking, $28 (272p) ISBN 978-0-593-49059-4

First-rate prose and a fascinating plot distinguish the final novel from MWA Grand Master le Carré (1931–2020). Two months after leaving a banking job in London, 33-year-old Julian Lawndsley gets a visit from an eccentric customer, Edward Avon, just before closing time at the bookshop Julian now runs in East Anglia. When Julian asks the man what he does, he replies, “Let us say I am a British mongrel, retired, a former academic of no merit and one of life’s odd-job men.” The next morning, Julian runs into Edward at the local café, where Edward claims he knew Julian’s late father at Oxford. Julian later learns that Edward, a Polish emigré, was recruited into the Service years before. Julian senses something is off, as does the head of Domestic Security for the Service, who’s investigating Edward’s wife, an Arabist and outstanding Service intelligence analyst. While laying out the Avons’ intriguing backstories and their current activities, le Carré highlights the evils spies and governments have perpetrated on the world. Many readers will think the book is unfinished—it ends abruptly—but few will find it unsatisfying. This is a fitting coda to a remarkable career. Agent: Jonny Geller, Curtis Brown (U.K.). (Oct.)