Heads Up: A Delicate Truth

From Cold War to counter terrorism, the thrills go on

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The Independent Culture

What are we talking about? A new novel from legendary spy writer John le Carré, focusing on two Foreign Office employees in the murky world of counter-terrorism intelligence. The publishers promise "a furiously paced story of moral dilemma, personal guilt, bold action and unexpected love".

Elevator pitch Novelist, screen-writer, speaker, spy … le Carré is back

with another tale of political conspiracy.

Prime movers It's edited, for the US, by former president of Penguin books, Kathryn Court, and for Penguin in the UK, by acclaimed editor Mary Mount.

The stars John le Carré, of course. The former intelligence officer (real name: David Cornwell) is best known for his spy fiction, including Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Spy who Came in From the Cold and The Constant Gardener. A Delicate Truth is his 23rd novel.

The early buzz John R MacArthur in Harper's, which has revived its long-form Folio section especially to accommodate the first chapter of A Delicate Truth, wrote in an introduction: "fifty years after The Spy Who Came in From the Cold was published, le Carré is still writing brilliantly about foolish people playing soldier at the behest of cynical politicians for whom the national interest is nothing more than self-interest … le Carré does this better than anyone else writing in English, in fiction or non-fiction."

Insider knowledge Expect to see plenty more of le Carré this year: several of his books have already been adapted into screen hits, and there's another one on its way. A Most Wanted Man, directed by Anton Corbjin and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Rachel McAdams, will be out later in 2013.

It's great that … if you want to hear the man himself, le Carré is talking at the Hay Festival later this year – in an unprecedented double-length session.

It's a shame that … there came news last week that may stick in some people's throats: le Carré was an admirer of Margaret Thatcher. Archive papers show that he expressed regret when unable to attend a dinner party with her, writing: "I never thought I could find her admirable, but I do somehow. Perhaps because I do believe she is an honest and extraordinarily brave person."

Hit potential No mystery here: likely to be a hit, with crossover potential beyond the thriller genre, thanks to all those films and TV adaptations.

The details A Delicate Truth is published by Penguin on 25 April.