Below is a review of John Le Carre’s book, The Russia House. In his novel, The Russia House John Le Carre intertwines his spy and intelligence knowledge into an intense plot about a publisher who gets caught in the middle of Cold War intelligence work. The book dives deep into the story of a publisher who in trying to fulfill a promise to a Russian friend finds himself an asset to the British government working behind Russian borders. With complications of American CIA intervention, the love for a Russian woman, and the KGB slowly uncovering their trail, the story of Barley Scott Blair is told through the eyes of his handler. The handler recalls the story from a future time when he knows everything that happened.
The first person point of view from a side character gives the reader the chance to get to know the thoughts and actions of the Barley and the narrator, while the objective telling gives both sides of the conflict. This narration helps to develop the conflict with Barley and the British Intelligence on top of the central conflict Barley has with the Russians and his moral compass. Through the story, the plot reveals devious plans and situations that bring Barley deeper into the thing he never wanted to be a part of.
In the end, Barley must decide between following the orders of his country and losing the woman he loves or betraying his country and the western world to save himself and his love. It truly shines a light on a new angle and aspect of the Cold War that has not been well reported on and makes it into a personal story that people can relate to and understand. The Russia House is well-written and hard to put down and will leave you questioning what you would have done, it truly is a great spy novel.
Reviewed by Zachary Smith