Agent Running in the Field: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Nat is an aging spy with three passions, the work he loves, his family, and badminton. His wife, Prue, a respected attorney, has stood by him through all his faraway postings, staying home raising their daughter and building a solid career.  

Now back in London, at 47 Nat is afraid he will be put out to pasture.  He thrives in the field, has let his work take him away from his family for years as he concentrated on Russia.  It was dangerous work that he thought relative to Britain’s national security.  Work he was good at, but 47 is getting long in the tooth for running field agents and dodging the other side.  He goes in for what he fears will be his dismissal, or relegation to a boring desk job, only to find he is being offered a substation, Haven, to run.  Admittedly it is not a highly regarded substation, rather the opposite, but at least he is still in the game.  He has one sharp agent, Florence, who has found an in to the dealings of a Ukrainian oligarch.  Nat and Florence put together a proposal that could turn into a major operation if the higher ups give the green light. 

Nat works off the tension playing competitive badminton with a young opponent, Ed.  The younger man is good, but Nat has been the club champion for ages, he still has the moves.  After their games they repair to the club bar where Ed fumes about his frustrating job, the idiocy of Trump, and Brexit.  Harmless blowing off of steam Nat thinks.  But things are about to go haywire. 

Le Carre infuses this tale of an aging spy involved in way more than he anticipated with humor and a good dose of anger at our current political situation.

— Deon Stonehouse


“[Le Carré’s] novels are so brilliant because they’re emotionally and psychologically absolutely true, but of course they’re novels.” —New York Times Book Review

A new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author John le Carré.

Nat, a 47 year-old veteran of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, believes his years as an agent runner are over. He is back in London with his wife, the long-suffering Prue. But with the growing threat from Moscow Centre, the office has one more job for him. Nat is to take over The Haven, a defunct substation of London General with a rag-tag band of spies. The only bright light on the team is young Florence, who has her eye on Russia Department and a Ukrainian oligarch with a finger in the Russia pie.

Nat is not only a spy, he is a passionate badminton player. His regular Monday evening opponent is half his age: the introspective and solitary Ed. Ed hates Brexit, hates Trump and hates his job at some soulless media agency. And it is Ed, of all unlikely people, who will take Prue, Florence and Nat himself down the path of political anger that will ensnare them all. Agent Running in the Field is a chilling portrait of our time, now heartbreaking, now darkly humorous, told to us with unflagging tension by the greatest chronicler of our age.

About the Author

John le Carré was born in 1931. After attending the universities of Bern and Oxford, he taught at Eton and spent five years in the British Foreign Service. The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, his third book, secured him a worldwide reputation. He divides his time between England and the Continent.

Praise For…

“Superb writing, precise portraiture, clever tricks of tradecraft—all Mr. le Carré’s hallmarks are present in this swift, surprising, bittersweet story.”
The Wall Street Journal

“So topical it arrives with the beeping urgency of a news alert.”
The Washington Post

“A word about le Carré's prose: Not only does it hold the coiled energy of a much younger writer, it fits the bitter, angry narrator's voice exceptionally well.”

“Le Carré is one of the best novelists—of any kind—we have.”
Vanity Fair

“Le Carré remains a master at showing us what spies do, wily spiders to the unsuspecting flies they entrap.”
Booklist (starred)

“Deeply pleasurable.”

“A tragicomic salute to both the recuperative powers of its has-been hero and the remarkable career of its nonpareil author.”

“John le Carré is the great master of the spy story. . . . The constant flow of emotion lifts him not only above all modern suspense novelists, but above most novelists now practicing.”
Financial Times

“One of our great writers of moral ambiguity, a tireless explorer of that darkly contradictory no-man's land.”
Los Angeles Times

“No other writer has charted—pitilessly for politicians but thrillingly for readers—the public and secret histories of his times.”
The Guardian (UK)

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9781984878878
ISBN-10: 1984878875
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: October 22nd, 2019
Pages: 288