When an author has written twenty-four novels, one should expect (and perhaps even hope) that they tread familiar ground with their twenty-fifth. Authors of this kind are rare enough to be special; special enough to maintain a dialogue with their reader across multiple millions of words. As much as there’s something to say about authors exploring radically new ground, readers often don’t want that newness to be at the expense of their strengths.

And so it is with John le Carré, whose latest novel, Agent Running in the Field, was published last week. To describe it briefly as “typical” le Carré fare is to mischaracterise it. It is certainly a spy story but, through the prism of Brexit, the author has found new ways of projecting old themes. Le Carré is angrier than he has perhaps ever been on the page. That lends the book a sense of urgency that may well lessen over time and diminish with political distance. In the right moment, however, it slams its points home with a force one might not expect from a writer in his 88th year.

Le Carré’s great books, specifically the Karla trilogy, written in the 1970s, were set in the Cold War but the themes were never narrow. Le Carré explored how his protagonists felt, thought, believed, lived, and often died according to their many illusions. Even his pen name (he is really called David Cornwell) suggested self-recognition wasn’t so easy in the covert world.

Le Carré brought a clerical solemnity to the business of spying.