The Cold War may have ended many years ago in real life, but not for John le Carre, who has now written a fascinating book derived from two of his earlier George Smiley novels, “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” Smiley merely plays a background role in “Legacy.” Instead, Peter Guillam, his disciple, who retired from the Circus (the British Secret Service) to the family farmstead in southern France, plays a central part in the story.
Peter receives a letter summoning him to London where he is instructed to review files and interrogated about an operation during the Cold War in which an operative and a source were killed. It would appear that a potential parliamentary inquiry or even a civil action blaming Peter and others for the deaths and seeking monetary damages, brought by the offspring of the two unfortunate victims, is possible.
As Peter reviews the material, le Carre recreates the times and travails of the period, as we relive through the actions of the characters conditions in East Berlin and the spy craft during the Cold War. It is history recreated with all the tensions of the period, excellently written with humor and panache.