John le Carré’s Silverview: A fitting conclusion to a writing career that redefined spy fiction

Book review: John le Carré lost none of what made him remarkable in his final work

Silverview, the final completed novel by the master of spy fiction, John le Carré, arrives 10 months after his passing. Photograph: Tom Jamieson/New York Times

Silverview, the final completed novel by the master of spy fiction, John le Carré, arrives 10 months after his passing. Photograph: Tom Jamieson/New York Times

Silverview, the final completed novel by the master of spy fiction, John le Carré, arrives 10 months after his passing, like light from a dead star to illuminate nothing less than the slippery nature of truth and the very concept of loyalty. These are themes that run through le Carré’s tremendous body of work – 26 novels from 1961 to 2021, some of them among the greatest books of our time. In many ways Silverview is a fitting conclusion to the long career of a writer who redefined an entire genre with the deceptive ease of pure genius.

Wealthy Julian Lawndsley arrives in a small seaside town in East Anglia to set up a bookshop, despite having no experience and little concept of what owning a bookshop might involve. A faintly enigmatic visitor to the bookshop, Edward, possesses great confidence and a Polish accent along with old-world charm; he offers help and advice and even friendship, but what he seeks in return is a mystery. In the meantime, a young woman delivers a message to a top spy, Proctor. Her mother is dying and the message is urgent: there has been a leak, somewhere, somehow.

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