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A Perfect Spy: A Novel Audiobook, by John le Carré Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: John le Carré Narrator: Michael Jayston Publisher: Penguin Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2012 ISBN: 9781101575697
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (4,973 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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Over the course of his seemingly irreproachable life, Magnus Pym has been all things to all people: a devoted family man, a trusted colleague, a loyal friend—and the perfect spy. But in the wake of his estranged father’s death, Magnus vanishes, and the British Secret Service is up in arms. Is it grief, or is the reason for his disappearance more sinister? And who is the mysterious man with the sad moustache who also seems to be looking for Magnus?   In A Perfect Spy, John le Carré has crafted one of his crowning masterpieces, interweaving a moving and unusual coming-of-age story with a morally tangled chronicle of modern espionage. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “The best English novel since the war.”

    Philip Roth, Pulitzer Prize–winning author

  • “A first-rate espionage novel, perhaps the best of his already impressive oeuvre.”

    New York Times

  • "A Perfect Spy by John le Carré is a favorite book of mine. I think it’s the best spy novel ever written.”

    Tim Curry

  • “His most compelling novel, one he may spend the rest of his life trying to top.”

    New York Daily News

  • “Le Carré’s best book, and one of the finest novels of the twentieth century.”

    Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials

  • “Overshadows The Spy Who Came in from the Cold…le Carré’s intense feelings, linguistic artistry, and stinging wit draw the reader into the story of Magnus Pym…Epic in scope…le Carré again masterfully chronicles the dangerous game-playing world of international espionage.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Michael Jayston’s powerful enthusiasm…masterfully captures the layers of psychological motivations that are le Carré’s stock-in-trade…In A Perfect Spy both author and narrator are in top form.”


  • “Not a spy novel in the usual sense…but a skillfully manipulated, complex, and probingly written study spiced with lively anecdotes. To be savored.”

    Library Journal

  • “Only le Carré could write a spy novel in which betraying one’s country could become a life-affirming action. Far more than a thriller, A Perfect Spy is a meditation on the problem of identity in a complex world.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Bitter, stately…Psychological texture and morality-play dynamics…allow le Carré to write his richest, most unabashedly Dickensian prose yet: occasionally self-conscious or precious, often stirring, magical, gravely joyous.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • A #1 New York Times bestseller
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award

Listener Reviews

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  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Currerbelfry | 2/18/2014

    " Probably the best popular fiction about the ethics and circumstances of the 20th century that I've read. What happens to a person whose entire life is dedicated to pleasing those around him - first one person, then the next - when those people have conflicting agendas? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maura | 2/11/2014

    " I am not generally into spy novels but this one was pretty good. It starts off strong but drags a bit as it continues. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emily | 2/9/2014

    " second favorite john le carre novel--involves cold war spies, but not the karla plot. his books are about spies, yes, but spies that inevitably human, not james bond. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Strategic | 2/9/2014

    " If you like spy stories, this book is the definition of those. Definitely. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melmac | 2/4/2014

    " The narration performed by Michael Jayston was top notch some of the best character work I've heard. The story on the other hand I found to be a hard slog. For starters it took me a little while to get my head around the change in time and perspective also I found it a bit repetitve. I thinkt he whole time I was expecting something big to happen to Pym but it never did it was more about his identity etc which I just found a bit yawn inducing. My first Le Carre novel and I just though it would be a bit more exciting. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Hazel | 1/23/2014

    " i love reading about espionage books but this one was simply too confusing because the author shifts from first person to third person & i actually do not know who is speaking or telling the story! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Feliks | 1/15/2014

    " Robust and depthful; but just not of the same memorable caliber which characterized leCarre's work in the 70s--his apex. For my money (although I consider him the #1 novelist of the 20th century) after 'Smiley's People' he loses his brilliance. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nicole | 1/15/2014

    " A masterful writer kept this reader confused the whole time. In this case, Le Carre read the book, a particular treat as he accentuated points exactly as he intended. Excellent! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tiffany | 1/10/2014

    " Link to my original review "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Janet | 12/25/2013

    " The best John le Carre, the making of a perfect spy-- a boy who grows up with a conman father, who wants something to believe in, but also, has all the skills necessary. Brilliant beyond belief. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 peter | 12/16/2013

    " i love spies and tricky tricks, and this one was a doosie. long and engrossing. couldnt put it down, and was sad when it ended. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Blair | 12/9/2013

    " On Tuesday I got a new library card, got really excited, and got rid of all the other books I was reading. We will see if it was worth it! The first 28 pages have been a little heavy handed, but entertaining! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Michael | 8/24/2013

    " Well written and somewhat engaging, but overly long for a spy tale. Does not have as much intrigue as I would have expected; also somewhat depressing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Simon | 7/23/2013

    " The very best in a long line of classic spy thrillers. Deeply emotive and touches the soul... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hubert | 5/23/2013

    " Though it takes Le Carre a while to set the scene and characters, by page 70 it gets going. Love the quick banter which reveals the complex / complicated relationships between the characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Parke | 2/14/2013

    " A psychological profile of a perfect spy...and a good novel as well. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tim | 7/29/2012

    " Re-read 2008. Not part of the Smiley canon, yet another splendid character study where we readers get very anxious for the safety of our upstanding British spy protagonists. "

About the Author

John le Carré, the pseudonym of David John Moore Cornwell (1931–2020), was an English author of espionage novels. Eight of his novels made the #1 spot on the New York Times bestsellers list between 1983 and 2017. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, his third book, secured him a worldwide reputation as one of the greatest spy novelists in history. Numerous major motion pictures have been made from his novels, as well as several television series. After attending the universities at Berne and Oxford, he taught at Eton and spent five years in the British Foreign Service, serving briefly in British Intelligence during the Cold War. Being a member of MI6 when he wrote his first novel, Call for the Dead (1961) in Hamburg, it necessitated the use of a nom de plume, by which he continued to be known. His writing earned him several honorary doctorate degrees and the Somerset Maugham Award, the Goethe Medal, and the Olof Palme Prize.

About the Narrator

Michael Jayston is a highly regarded actor, having appeared in numerous films, among them Cromwell, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Zulu Dawn, and Nicholas and Alexandra. He has many television credits to his name as well, such as Element of Doubt, A Bit of a Do, Outside Edge, and Only Fools and Horses, while on stage he has been seen in Henry V and Hamlet for the RSC, as well as Private Lives and The Way of the World. His audiobook work has won him six AudioFile Earphones Awards.