cover image Agent Running in the Field

Agent Running in the Field

John le Carré. Viking, $29 (272p) ISBN 978-1-9848-7887-8

Bestseller le Carré’s first spy thriller to focus on the Trump era disappoints. Nat, a 25-year veteran of MI6, is afraid that he’s about to be put out to pasture. Instead, he’s offered the opportunity to take over the management of a derelict London intelligence substation, the Haven, “a dumping ground for resettled defectors of nil value and fifth-rate informants on the skids.” Nat accepts, and advocates for a new subordinate’s covert op aimed at a Ukranian oligarch code-named Orson, who has close links to “pro-Putin elements in the Ukranian Government.” The straightforward operation against Orson ends up becoming complicated and includes an obligatory mole hunt. Meanwhile, Nat befriends Ed Shannon, an agent for another branch of British intelligence, who reveals himself to be a strident opponent of Britain’s leaving the E.U. and a believer that Trump is leading the U.S. toward fascism. Le Carré (A Legacy of Spies) telegraphs the book’s twist early on, and Nat is colorless compared with Magnus Pym and the author’s other nuanced leads. This is a missed opportunity. Agent: Jonny Geller, Curtis Brown. (Oct.)