Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


I do love a good spy novel, and particularly those from the WWII / Cold War era – I’m especially fond of John le Carré, Helen MacInnes, Eric Ambler, John Lawton, Aly Monroe, Graham Greene and Len Deighton. Not that I’m any kind of expert on the spy novel – I’m happy to concede that I’m probably the only person who believes Alistair MacLean’s WHEN EIGHT BELLS TOLL is one of the finest spy novels ever written.
  Anyway, and speaking of the great spy novelists, I thoroughly enjoyed Adam Sisman’s biography of John le Carré last year, and I’m looking forward to le Carré’s own memoir, THE PIGEON TUNNEL (Viking), which is published later this week. Quoth the blurb elves:
‘Out of the secret world I once knew, I have tried to make a theatre for the larger worlds we inhabit. First comes the imagining, then the search for reality. Then back to the imagining, and to the desk where I’m sitting now.’
  From his years serving in British Intelligence during the Cold War, to a career as a writer that took him from war-torn Cambodia to Beirut on the cusp of the 1982 Israeli invasion, to Russia before and after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, John le Carré has always written from the heart of modern times. In this, his first memoir, le Carré is as funny as he is incisive - reading into the events he witnesses the same moral ambiguity with which he imbues his novels. Whether he’s writing about the parrot at a Beirut hotel that could perfectly mimic machine gun fire, or visiting Rwanda’s museums of the unburied dead in the aftermath of the genocide, or celebrating New Year’s Eve with Yasser Arafat, or interviewing a German terrorist in her desert prison in the Negev, or watching Alec Guinness preparing for his role as George Smiley, or describing the female aid worker who inspired the main character in his The Constant Gardener, le Carré endows each happening with vividness and humour, now making us laugh out loud, now inviting us to think anew about events and people we believed we understood. Best of all, le Carré gives us a glimpse of a writer’s journey over more than six decades, and his own hunt for the human spark that has given so much life and heart to his fictional characters.
  THE PIGEON TUNNEL is published on September 8th. For all the details, clickety-click here

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