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A Perfect Spy | [John le Carré]

A Perfect Spy

Magnus Pym, counsellor at the British Embassy in Vienna, has suddenly vanished, believed defected. The chase is on for a missing husband, a devoted father, and a life-time secret agent. Pym's life, it is revealed, is entirely made up of secrets. The race is on to find the perfect spy.
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Publisher's Summary

Magnus Pym, counsellor at the British Embassy in Vienna, has suddenly vanished, believed defected. The chase is on for a missing husband, a devoted father, and a life-time secret agent.

Pym’s life, it is revealed, is entirely made up of secrets. The race is on to find the perfect spy.

©1986 David Cornwell (P)2014 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (20 )
5 star
 (8)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Overall
4.2 (17 )
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4 star
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3 star
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Story
4.6 (17 )
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Performance
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  •  
    David Kfar Saba, Israel 06-16-12
    David Kfar Saba, Israel 06-16-12

    An avid audio fan, I listen mainly whilst walking my dog. I enjoy many and varied subjects,history,travel,espionage,crime,anything good

    HELPFUL VOTES
    34
    ratings
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    Story
    "The Best"

    This is by far my favourite of le Carre's books.Although not a spy story as such,it is a story about the making and breaking of a spy.
    A story about love,friendship and a tormented man,living in so many different worlds,balancing within himself conflicting characters.
    His analysis of Pyms character,as to what goes into making him a perfect spy is riveting.
    Ricki Pym,the father,is an enchanting rogue,love and hated,and there is a superb cast of supporting characters,Musspole,Perce Loft,and many others,all vividly alive.
    For a novel where so much of the plot is background and family history,and so little takes place in the present,my attention was held from the start.The writing is superb.
    Even though I knew the ending I was spellbound as to the depth of the authors sympathy and understanding of his tortured,confused,loyal and traitorous hero.
    I have read the book several times and shall listen to this audibook again and again.
    Michael Jayston is excellent,as ever

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emmanuel Mei Ammi, Israel 12-24-12
    Emmanuel Mei Ammi, Israel 12-24-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good story, but not one of le Carre's great ones"
    Would you listen to A Perfect Spy again? Why?

    Don't think so, its a nice read/hear but not significant enough for a re-read


    Any additional comments?

    Made a very nice reading for my daily commute

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Nelson, New Zealand 07-01-12
    Steve Nelson, New Zealand 07-01-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    3
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Story
    "A Masterpiece"

    In my view, his best work. Certainly on a par with Tinker Tailor. The slow unwrapping of the Character with constant flashbacks, the layering, the atmosphere, are the work of a master story teller still at the top of his game. Micheal Jayston as always reads absolutely superbly. Unturnoffable!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. R. Gibb New Zealand 07-01-12
    S. R. Gibb New Zealand 07-01-12 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    18
    18
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Masterpiece"

    In my view, his best work. Certainly on a par with Tinker Tailor. The slow unwrapping of the Character with constant flashbacks, the layering, the atmosphere, are the work of a master story teller still at the top of his game. Micheal Jayston as always reads absolutely superbly. Unturnoffable!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-4 of 4 results
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  • A User
    1/7/12
    Overall
    "Review of The Perfect Spy by John le Carre"

    I have just finished listening to The Perfect Spy by John le Carre for the third time, and I am more thrilled than ever by this masterpiece. Michael Jayston`s brilliant narration emphasizes the richness and credibility of le Carre`s characters, and also his ability to visualize every scene and every gesture.
    The Perfect Spy is my favorite book by my favorite author.

    Reidun Kornelie Mork-Sagen
    Norway

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Lynn
    London, United Kingdom
    6/10/12
    Overall
    "Sublime"

    John Le Carre should win the nobel prize for literature. An award should be created for the greatest reader of books and it should go to Michael Jayston. This is all one could ever ask of literature, story-telling, and being read to.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Caz
    Tasmania, Australia
    7/12/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A perfect tale"
    Would you listen to A Perfect Spy again? Why?

    I have now listened to it three times. As is the case with all Le Carre's novels, it is so much more than a 'spy' story. With each listen there is something more to be found in this complex and poignant story of an utterly damaged man, who wanted desperately to be all things to all people.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The way in which the complex motives that underpin the vagaries of human behaviour are explored by this master storyteller.


    Which character – as performed by Michael Jayston – was your favourite?

    Mary Pym. Michael Jayston is so skilled a narrator that he makes her character entirely believable. I forgot that this was a man reading the part of a woman. He is simply the best. In some books, male narrators can make the women sound like characters out of pantomime- this never happens in a Michael Jayston narrated audiobook, his female characters are always authentic.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes- and the first time I did, it accompanied me throughout the day and evening.


    Any additional comments?

    A Perfect Spy is simply one of the best audio books I have ever heard and Michael Jayston has fast become my favourite narrator.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Roderic
    Victoria Park, Australia
    12/26/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well written and satisfyingly told"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. It is a good story that centres on filling out its one central character. The complex narrative is handled well and I remember its details a year after finishing it.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • sora
    UK
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Complex story, very compelling"

    Brilliant narration keeps this very complex story bowling along. This is really three narratives rolled into one, with astonishing control of the characters and such clever ideas. Pym's story and his father's story are told like a memoir (as he is writing it) but still with plenty of tension. These are interwoven with details of Pym's disappearance and the efforts to track him down.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr
    Crowborough, United Kingdom
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Fascinating insight into the mind of a spy"

    Magnus Pym, the resident spy of the Vienna embassy has gone missing after attending his father's funeral. He has gone to ground, secluded in a B&B in a Devon seaside town, he has decided is now time for him to write the great novel of his life and reveal the true Magnus.



    Let's get one thing clear here this is not an 'easy read'; Le Carré is the consumate espionage writer, the writing of a man with first had experience as a serving officer in MI6. You are not going to get your Bond explosions and your Bourne fights here, rather an indepth, semi-autobiographical treatise on what makes a Perfect Spy. The narrative is split between the present day search for Magnus by the security services of Britain, USA and Czechoslovakia and Magnus's memoirs and his confessional correspondence to the key people in his life.



    The sweep of the novel takes us from a small village in Wales in the early twentieth century where we meet Pym's father Rick who has a dominant role in Pym's life, we see Rick develop into a confidence trickster par excellence and the effect of this transcient lifestyle on the young Pym it's highs and the inevitable lows. We learn about Pym's school life where commits the first of his many betrayals and then his introduction into the secret world at Uinversity of Berne. We see Pym develop into a young officer all the while leading a double life and his progression through the ranks of the secret service to the utopia that is the Washington posting in the present day, i.e. the 1980s.



    The depth of the novel and that of the characters inviolved are all immersing and are brought to life by the excellent Michael Jayston who has made the naration of the Le Carré back catalogue his own





    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • L
    Swansea, United Kingdom
    3/25/13
    Overall
    "His best"

    i think this is le Carre's best book. Michael Jayston is perfect for this read. A little diffident and thoughtful. I read this book years ago and listening to it was a lovely way to revisit it. I wan't disappointed, it was as brilliant as I remembered

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Trevor
    Craven Arms, United Kingdom
    3/19/13
    Overall
    "One of le Carré's best books, brilliantly read"

    Anthony Burgess, in his role as literary critic, admired John le Carré as a stylist but suggested that he could not be regarded as a great writer because he wrote "genre" novels about spies and espionage. Arrant nonsense of course. What subject could be more relevant to the second half of the 20th Century than espionage and the Cold War? Jane Austin is generally acknowledged as a great writer but what was her subject matter? Mainly the doings of silly women yet, of course, she, like le Carré, was able to portray the fundamentals of human character and behaviour in a highly revealing way.



    A Perfect Spy is not, to my mind, quite the best of le Carré’s books but it is certainly high on my list. Some listeners may find the non-linear narrative confusing until they get used to it and the prose is occasionally perhaps a little too dense and mannered. I would have been inclined to give the book only four stars were it not for the fact that, because it is an audio book one must take account of the narration and this is so good that I unswervingly award it five: Michael Jayston's performance - as with all his readings of le Carré - is superb and vividly brings to life the author's cast of picaresque characters.

    Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • peter
    Szentendre, Hungary
    10/30/12
    Overall
    "SIMPLY the BEST...."

    Perfect Spy is not only le Carré's finest, but it is perhaps the greatest English novel of the 20th century, that Michael Jayston delivers with mastery and clout ! if you're preparing a list of the top 10 books, you ought to read during your lifetime, don't miss this one. read it or listen to it, or both.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Devion
    London, United Kingdom
    4/24/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good"
    Where does A Perfect Spy rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It was most lovey and interesting as it makes me relax and comforting and keep me wanting more


    Has A Perfect Spy put you off other books in this genre?

    Yes


    How could the performance have been better?

    No it's perfect


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    It was most interesting

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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