I just finished John Le Carre’s latest: “Agent Running in the Field.” It’s a pretty good book for those who like literate spy stories, but to me it’s noteworthy for at least one other reason: It’s the first time I’ve explicitly encountered the dark and dimwitted presence of Donald J. Trump in popular fiction. Probably won’t be the last.
Trump is not a character, thank God. But he does provide the dark milieu in which he, and his totally excellent compadre Vladimir Putin, continue to amplify the disastrous consequences of Brexit and the 2016 American election.
This is not any kind of political diatribe (although at least one Trumpist reviewer on Goodreads called it that. Because of course). The stoic and deliberate Le Carre has never been a polemicist. In simpler times he might have been a proud Tory, or a Republican. But he knows quite a bit about the clandestine services. And here he deftly illustrates what happens when chaotic bumblers like Trump (and Boris Johnson) are somehow turned loose in the China shop of international espionage.
Spoiler: It ain’t pretty. Allegiances and loyalties are tested. And because it’s a spy novel, nothing is as it seems. Well, almost nothing.
I’m always skeptical of fiction that tries to leverage current headlines. Just as I’m skeptical of these one million books purporting to dish about the Trump administration while it’s still in progress. But this one, “Agent Running in the Field,” is subtle and incisive enough that it might remain relevant decades on. It starts slow but it gets better. Dave Bob says check it out. Let me know if you agree.
John H. says
Thanks for the review, Dave. I’m a Le Carre fan from the “Tinker, Tailor…” days. He always writes well, though I haven’t found his newer stuff as compelling. I’ll have to check this one out.
The situation with Vlad and Donny could indeed come from a Le Carre novel, except that Vlad’s influence is right out in the open instead of being clandestine. It’s debatable what benefit Trump’s international moves have had for the U.S., but all have had a clear benefit for Russia.