The Pigeon Tunnel is a documentary on John le Carre, whose real name is David Cornwell. As a writer I found it fascinating as his twisted plots with a somewhat cynical edge resonate with me not just because of writing but my own Special Operations background.

The title might seem strange, but it’s critical to understanding not just le Carre, but almost everyone. We all have our own pigeon tunnels.

He burst onto the bestseller scene with his very first novel, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. As he put it, he’s sort of the antithesis of James Bond. Realistic, gritty and requiring focus and knowledge to read, he wrote the classic spy novels of the Cold War and beyond.

One particular thing that struck me, besides the actual pigeon tunnel story, is his reflection on the “inmost room”. It’s a topic my wife and I have discussed many times. When we wrote Bodyguard of Lies we postulated the existence of a sort of inmost room in the form of the Cellar, an organization that rose beyond petty squabbles and worked for the greater good. Of course, that’s fiction. As le Carre points out, there really isn’t an inmost room and that is quite scary. We’re all kind of mucking our way through, including those we think should actually know what’s going on.

I highly recommend this documentary.