• The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

  • A George Smiley Novel, Book 3
  • By: John le Carré
  • Narrated by: Michael Jayston
  • Length: 7 hrs
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (3,048 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $24.50

Buy for $24.50

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

A number-one New York Times best seller for 34 weeks and the book that launched John le Carré's career worldwide.

In the shadow of the newly erected Berlin Wall, Alec Leamas watches as his last agent is shot dead by East German sentries. For Leamas, the head of Berlin Station, the Cold War is over. As he faces the prospect of retirement or worse - a desk job - Control offers him a unique opportunity for revenge. Assuming the guise of an embittered and dissolute ex-agent, Leamas is set up to trap Mundt, the deputy director of the East German Intelligence Service - with himself as the bait. In the background is George Smiley, ready to make the game play out just as Control wants.

Setting a standard that has never been surpassed, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is a devastating tale of duplicity and espionage.

©1963; 1991 le Carre Productions; David Cornwell (P)2012 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,047
  • 4 Stars
    715
  • 3 Stars
    212
  • 2 Stars
    51
  • 1 Stars
    23
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,096
  • 4 Stars
    493
  • 3 Stars
    95
  • 2 Stars
    27
  • 1 Stars
    5
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,850
  • 4 Stars
    585
  • 3 Stars
    189
  • 2 Stars
    62
  • 1 Stars
    22

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great novel, but not Smiley...

I really love the novels of John le Carre, especially the Karla series. This may be le Carre's best work - better even than the Karla novels. The vertiginous manipulations, the moral ambiguities, the uncomfortable compromises made by the protagonist Alec Leamas, make this a gripping story with existential reverberations, even 50 years after it was first published.

If the ending of "Smiley's People" is a victory with chilling implications for the human soul, then the ending of this novel is a crushing defeat with hopeful inspiration for the individual. Nothing is ever as it seems in le Carre's best work, and that is doubly true here.

One note: even though it's listed as part of the Smiley series, George Smiley is barely even a minor character in this book - more of a shadowy emanation, and one which hints at another side of his identity.

35 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Book

What made the experience of listening to The Spy Who Came in from the Cold the most enjoyable?

John Le Carre is my favourite author and I have read most of his books including this one and I enjoyed the audio version just as much as the written one.

The narrator was excellent and the story was engrossing right from the beginning.

Highly recommend it specially if you are a fan of Le Carre.

What other book might you compare The Spy Who Came in from the Cold to and why?

Books narrated by Will Payton

Have you listened to any of Michael Jayston’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

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

not really - I like to stretch out the good books so I enjoy it longer rather than finishing them in one sitting

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great spy story

The story is wonderful and the narrator did a great job. The foreign accents could have been distracting, but the reader did very well with them and made them an integral part of the story. This was a good use of a credit.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A complex and intriguing story

What did you love best about The Spy Who Came in from the Cold?

The plot was most enjoyable. I envisioned Richard Burton in each scene, since I had previously viewed the movie.

What other book might you compare The Spy Who Came in from the Cold to and why?

Perhaps "The Day of the Jackal." Both books were very thoughtful and precise in articulating the characters.

Which scene was your favorite?

The opening scene with the spy crossing the check point.

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

No.

Any additional comments?

I would state that LeCarre is a thinking person's author.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Almost made me a John le Carré fan

Any additional comments?

I'm not really a spy novel fan but I heard such raves about the Karla Trilogy and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (and espionage from mother Russia seems so relevant this season) that I decided to take the plunge. For the Karla Trilogy I had the audio books narrated by David Case/Frederick Davidson. Only unbelievable stubbornness kept me going. I don't know when I have ever had such difficultly tracking the plot of a book. At some point I downloaded the ebooks so I could just read for myself and that seemed to help.

So it was with reluctance that I picked up this last John le Carré on my list. Maybe it was just an easier book but I must credit the narrator. Way more engaging, way easier to track what's going on even with several crosses and double crosses.

I think I am probably done reading John le Carré (or spy novels in general) for a while. I appreciate the spotlight on amorality but not so much the casual sexism. Say all you want but about Alec Leamas being the anti-James Bond but le Carré's women often seem as multi-dimensional as your average Bond girl. But if I do decide to pick one up again I will know that this is the narrator to go for.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Gritty, real world cold war feel

Would you consider the audio edition of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold to be better than the print version?

I generally do prefer audiobook versions to print versions nowadays, though it is a great experience to be able to have time to sit down and read a great novel.

What other book might you compare The Spy Who Came in from the Cold to and why?

Seems trite, but Casino Royale, the original Bond by Ian Fleming. This book is more grounded in realism and gritty, and loss of life, etc. However, the time period is very reminiscent in each.

Which scene was your favorite?

The recollection of Limas about the recruitment of the German spy in Berlin's Presidium secretariat.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

At the realistic-seeming finish, where no one swoops in and saves the world, ala James Bond, I started out with an initial disappointed feeling, and then realized that how I felt was exactly what the author wanted us to feel.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

His Best Book

I believe this to be the best of Le Carres' George Smiley books. Jayston was an excellent narrator

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Crap ending! I was mad.

I don’t want to read tragedies. I want happy endings.

But many readers are ok with bad things happening to good guys, and they call this a classic, so I’ll mention some good things about it below.

The plot is excellent. A guy goes deep undercover doing a variety of things. There are complicated twists and turns. They were good.

There’s a bleak and dull quality to Leamas, the main character. I did not enjoy watching him, but his character fit well in the story.

I love eccentric characters, and this story has one, Miss Crail, the head librarian. Leamas worked for her for a few weeks. She hated Leamas. When he put his coat on her coat hook, she stood there fuming, in a silent rage, for a long time. When asked what was wrong she said nothing. Then she spent the morning on the phone mumbling to someone, probably her mother. I love wacko characters like Miss Crail, but she was just a tiny part of the story. Still it might be worth reading just for her.

STORY BRIEF:
Great Britain vs. East German intelligence agencies. Leamas is an agent for Great Britain. He wants to eliminate an East German agent. The setting is 1961 with a couple scenes at the Berlin Wall.

AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR:
Michael Jayston was good.

Genre: mystery suspense, espionage, tragic ending

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Almost lost an entire night's sleep

I am not a lover of the espionage genre, but a special deal from Audible and high ratings made me take the plunge. So, I started with Book 1 in the George Smiley series and will end with it here. Definitely worth the listen and wonderfully narrated by Michael Jayston. Don't expect much action, this is a book of words/dialogue. No one is who you think......

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant

Any additional comments?

Great book, terse, bleak, but plot moves along briskly and the characters are well fleshed out. Much shorter, and in every way a different book to than, say, The honorable schoolboy, but it shares many characteristics still.

2 people found this helpful

.