The Man Who Came in From the Cold: Book Review

Spy novels are some of the most interesting reads and that statement is very true for John le Carré’s The Man Who Came in From the Cold. Keep reading to find out what we thought of the novel and if you should read it! 

The Man Who Came in From the Cold Summary  

Alec Leamas watches as he loses another agent to Hands-Dieter Mundt, the head of the East German Abteilung. Leamas is recalled to London by Circus chief Control. They plot one last mission to get back at Mundt. 

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold book review

That starts Leamas’ undercover journey where he drinks a lot and goes from job to job. One of the jobs that he undertakes is at a library. While working there, he ends up falling for one of the assistants. But Leamas’ has to go away. 

After being released from prison, Leamas is approached by a stranger who tries to befriend him. This leads to Leamas returning behind enemy lines and his life is under threat as he has few options available to him. What will Leamas do to preserve his life and that of the one person that he loves?  


The novel brings up characters from Carré’s debut novel Call for the Dead. The novel ended up winning the 1963 Gold Dagger award from the Crime Writers’ Association for “Best Crime Novel.” It also won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for “Best Mystery Novel” in the United States two years later. 

If you like spy novels and great writing, then you will love this novel. The characters are interesting, the commentary is brilliant and you don’t know what is going to happen next. Carré foreshadows everything and yet he does it so eloquently that you can’t help but admire his boldness.  


While this may not be Carré’s most popular novel, it is a great one, nonetheless. It encapsulates what a great spy novel is effortlessly. It is a must read and it will start you done a rabbit hole where you will end up reading a bunch of novels by Carré. Happy reading! 

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1 thought on “The Man Who Came in From the Cold: Book Review

  1. MI6 says:

    Did John le Carré have more Achilles heels than he had toes? David Cornwell was a formidable yet enchanting character and may have been arguably the best writer ever in the espionage genre but was he the perfect spy? Probably not and he even agreed with that … in his posthumously published letters. For more on him as an imperfect spy do see TheBurlingtonFiles website and read an intriguing news article dated 31 October 2022.
    Some mavericks in MI6 called Pemberton’s People were disappointed David Cornwell was outwitted by Monty’s cousin. Do have a look at The Burlington Files series starting with Beyond Enkription as long as you don’t expect John le Carré’s delicate diction and sophisticated syntax.

    Beyond Enkription is an intriguing raw and noir fact-based spy novel and it’s a must read for espionage cognoscenti but what would it have been like if David Cornwell had collaborated with Bill Fairclough? Even though they didn’t collaborate, Beyond Enkription is still described as ”up there with My Silent War by Kim Philby and No Other Choice by George Blake”.

    See for starters.


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