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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A Perfect Spy is a largely autobiographical work written in first and third person narration. Magnus retreats to a secret location soon after his father’s burial in order to retire from espionage and write a book. He ends up writing memoirs addressing his son because he does not want him to follow his spy ways. He also addresses his wife and Jack, his mentor.

The narration oscillates between flashbacks, in which Magnus gives an account of his career as a spy, and current events, including the discovery of his treason to Czechoslovakia. His upbringing, coupled with overwhelming influence from his father, contributes to his status as a perfect spy.

His father orchestrates his first ever spy mission in Switzerland where Magnus meets his mentors, Axel and Jack. Jack recruits Magnus into the secret service, and Axel manages to convince Magnus to act as a double agent, spying on behalf of Czechoslovakia. Throughout the book, he lives a life of deception characterized by pretense and betrayal. Magnus also speaks about his father’s conceited nature, which supposedly led to his mother’s lunacy when he was an infant. After this, he is raised by different mothers but fondly remembers Annie. Unfortunately, Annie commits suicide after suffering at the hands of Magnus' father.

Magnus views his father’s death as an opportunity to escape from his life as a spy. He also sees hope for his son, whom he does not want to follow his path.

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A Perfect Spy

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