In the novel, a salesman at a Moscow book fair is slipped a document by a frightened woman who wants it delivered it to Barley Blair, who she says has agreed to publish it for a unnamed friend of hers.
The salesman sneaks the manuscript through customs. Unable to find Blair, he delivers it to British Intelligence, whose CIA counterparts find it details the Soviet’s nuclear capabilities and atomic secrets.
The Service finds Blair, and presses him turning spy.
Barley stays sober long enough to be trained in the rudiments of spy craft, and sent into Russia to find the unnamed author and verify the authenticity of the document.
He contacts Kayla, trying to reach the author through her.
Before he gets to Yakov, Barley and Kayla are in love, and Yakov appears to be under KGB surveillance.
On what’s supposed to be his final effort to find out if the documents are authentic, Barley disappears.
Russia House has all the complexity of earlier Le Carré novels, but a far less gloomy setting and an almost upbeat ending.
The Russia House by John Le Carré
Knopf. ©1989. 353 p.
1989 bestseller #7; my grade: A
©2019 Linda G. Aragoni