John le Carré “Agent Running in the Field” – book review

This book was published in 2019 when John Le Carré was 88 years old. One can only hope to be in such great mental form at his age. It appears there’s nothing like writing a spy novel to keep your brain sharp.

Agent Running in the Field is not Le Carré’s best novel: but then, Le Carré at his best is very good indeed. This is still a pretty good novel by anyone else’s standards.

This is very much a post-Brexit novel. Nat, an agent runner for the MI6, thought he would be ready to retire. After years of being posted in Eastern Europe, there’s a job for him to do on his home turf. But is he still able to recognise his enemies? His wife is protesting Trump’s visit in London, his daughter is furious to discover his past infidelities, and a very friendly man called Ed is ranting about Brexit a the Badminton club. Meanwhile the British Secret Intelligence Service is struggling to identify someone who is feeding information to the KGB.

This is old-fashioned spying. People still talk to people, rather than using troll farms and Facebook analytics. Occasionally someone uses a mobile phone, but not terribly often. That said, the central premise works reasonably well.


Ed is a young man who is disillusioned by Brexit. As he works in the British Government, he has access to highly confidential files – outlining the plans of the British and the Trumpist Americans to sabotage the unity of European Union. Outraged, he contacts the German intelligence services. They declare they are not interested. But others are listening…

Ed will soon be approached by someone claiming that German intelligence service has changed their mind….

That is all fine and well, but why does he go to the German Intelligence and not straight to the press? Another question that I can’t answer is why Nat is so ready to forgive Ed for cooperating and even facilitates his escape… 

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