Regular price: $22.71

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
OR
In Cart

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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    18
  • 4 Stars
    13
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    21
  • 4 Stars
    8
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1

Story

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    18
  • 4 Stars
    7
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    1
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • David
  • Kfar Saba, Israel
  • 06-16-12

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

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • 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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • 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!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Steve
  • Nelson, New Zealand
  • 07-01-12

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!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • sxortesi
  • 12-28-15

I don't think i will ever get to the end

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Every ten days or more i try to carry on listening...Gosh is it hard work, makes me feel stupid that i just cannot get into it. All jumbled up for me. I wanted a story and got...not sure what. Excellent narrator. I got this audio awhile back and was holding on before reviewing. But i think i will just give up trying to read it, gracefully.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

When something actually does happen, which i forget what, because the rest is memories which i find depressing and a bit boring..sorry.<br/>

What aspect of Michael Jayston’s performance might you have changed?

He was perfect.

Did A Perfect Spy inspire you to do anything?

not listen to anymore of John le carre novels. But i did read Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy a long time ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. So i will be trying A Smiley spy series further down the line

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mr
  • 04-13-13

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





14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • L
  • 03-25-13

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

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Caz
  • 07-12-14

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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Trevor
  • 03-19-13

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.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Reidun
  • 01-07-12

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

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Michael
  • 07-19-16

a struggle

Would you try another book written by John le Carré or narrated by Michael Jayston?

This was not a book for me. I tried to percevere but lost all track of who was speaking in the book or who they were talking about. I got 10 hours into it and gave up.

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

No

Would you be willing to try another one of Michael Jayston’s performances?

Not sure if it was the narrator or the author. I could not tell which character was speaking.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Frustration

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lynn
  • 06-10-12

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.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • S. Roche
  • 10-23-15

Purgatory!

Dear God that was hard work! Goes no where, drags on describing in depth the relationship between the Author's own Father and that of the main character.
A deeply disappointing book.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • William
  • 06-15-16

Le Carre at his very best and based on his dad's story

I've just read John Le Carre biography, this is a fictionalised account of his and his dad's real life mixed with a spy story. His dad was a cone artiest in real life and I read his biography then read this. Wonderful book

2 of 2 people found this review helpful