Agent Running in the Field by John Le Carre

1. First lines. 2. Published 2019 Penguin 3. Waiting in the night. By Martin Vorel [Free for commercial use; No attribution required] via Libreshot 4. badminton-bat-activity-leisure By Vladvictoria [Free for commercial use; No attribution required] via Pixabay
A classic spy story set in present-day United Kingdom.

Nat is a nearly-retired spy tasked with heading “The Haven”, a defunct substation of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service. He is also a keen badminton player, and as the story begins, he is challenged to a game by Ed, who arrives unannounced at his Badminton Club. Ed is a loner who rages about the state of politics in the UK and the USA, and eventually, he takes Nat by surprise, and leads him into danger.

“There are events in my life – only a few these days, it’s true – that admit of one version only. Our meeting is such an event. My telling of it never wavered in all the times they made me repeat it.”

“Point about Trump is, he’s a gang boss, born and bred. Brought up to screw civil society all ways up, not be part of it…And poor little Vladi Putin never had any democratic potty training at all…Born a spy, still a spy, with Stalin’s paranoia to boot. Wakes up every morning amazed the West hasn’t blown him out of the water with a pre-emptive strike.”

“… a lot of people will do a lot of things for money and a lot of people will do things for spite or ego. There are also people who do things for an ideal, and wouldn’t take your money if you shoved it down their throats.”

“Brexit is self-immolation. The British public is being marched over a cliff by a bunch of rich elitist carpetbaggers posing as men of the people.”

Quotes from “Agent Running in the Field” by John
  • The Economist: “John le Carré’s 25th novel is blisteringly contemporary”
  • The Guardian: “The master of the spy genre takes aim at Brexit and Trump in a classy entertainment about political ideals and deception. John le Carré’s novels contain flurries of physical activity … 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. … 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.”
  • The Washington Times:‘Agent Running in the Field’ is well-written and suspenseful, and despite the characters’ critical jabs at President Trump and Brexit, enjoyable.”

Also published by Penguin Random House.


  1. Sounds like a refreshing take on current political landscapes from an author we have always found both master of the spy thriller genre and subtle commentator. One for the holiday reading list.

    Liked by 1 person

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