From The Guardian:
John le Carré’s novels contain flurries of physical activity – moodily described surveillance, dead-letter drops, the very occasional shooting – but the real action is always two people talking in a room. Even the most apparently innocuous dialogue may be coded and ambiguous, serving two opposed purposes simultaneously: one meaning for the secret grey listeners, who in le Carré’s world are always assumed to be paying attention, and another meaning altogether for the participants. It is dramatic chamber music, in which mere conversation provides all the suspense and slow-dawning revelation you could want at any scale.
His new novel contains several delicious set pieces of this kind, and each time one gets going there is the sense of a master enjoying himself hugely: the characters themselves seem to become cleverer and wittier as their puppeteer’s dialogic invention takes flight. It can sometimes seem, indeed, as though the rest of the book comprises merely the stuff that has to be efficiently moved into place, just so, in order that these charged conversations become possible.
The publicity for Agent Running in the Field has emphasised the fact that this is le Carré’s Brexit novel, and so it is, laced with fury at the senseless vandalism of Brexit and of Trump, and the way the one is driving Britain into the clammy embrace of the other. Cunningly, though, le Carré wrong-foots the reader to a degree by making the character who is a mouthpiece for this criticism a rather annoying, monomaniacal, friendless geek. This is the twentysomething Ed, who befriends our narrator at his badminton club and then, after their weekly games, discourses furiously on the state of the world.
Link to the rest at The Guardian