Single & Single
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Single & Single

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  1,653 ratings  ·  128 reviews
John le Carré's classic novels deftly navigate readers through the intricate shadow worlds of international intrigue with unsurpassed skill and knowledge, and have earned him unprecedented worldwide acclaim.

A lawyer from a London finance house is shot dead on a Turkish hillside by people with whom he thought he was in business. A children's magician in the Engli...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published February 1st 2003 by Scribner (first published January 2nd 1985)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,577)
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Darwin8u
I wish I could claim credit for the catchy title/phrase: The spy who came back to the bank., but it has Mr. Moneyball written all over it.

After reviewing Our Kind of Traitor, I kept being drawn back to Single & Single, a le Carré I read last year, but never actually got around to reviewing. Both Single & Single & Our Kind of Traitor are part of le Carré's banking/black-market brand of post-Soviet spy fiction. Certainly not everyone's Jam, but being a finance guy myself, I kinda dig '...more
notgettingenough
Splendid. To say it is his best later book is to damn it with faint praise. It is just a darn good example of what Le Carre does so well, writing about the English and the Russians. He lost his way when the Cold War lost its way. Here he is back in that world he understands and loves and it makes all the difference.

I see this book has underwhelmed many, but I fail to see why. Unreservedly recommended.


'He's a bastard' says Oliver at one point. To which the Swiss banker replies:

http://alittleteaal...more
Helen
I love John le Carre. I really, really, really do. (Check my other reviews.) But for this book, Single & Single, my rating is...eh.

As a novelist, it is your job to make your story so believable that your audience will suspend their disbelief--or invent their own explanations--in the places where the plot runs thin. Which was a problem in this book.

Like a mantra, in the last 50 pages of Single & Single, I found myself yelling at the book over and over again, "What??? This is the Russian M...more
Hugh Ashton
To my mind, this is the finest of le Carré's post-Cold War works. His outrage against the crooked British establishment is apparent through the words and actions of his protagonist (and, one suspects, his alter ego) Nathaniel Brock.

His ear for dialogue is retained, whether it be in the mouth of the antihero of the story, Oliver Single or his super-rich crook of a father, the bent coppers and officials who serve them, the former intelligence operatives of three countries, the sleazy Swiss lawyer,...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in May 2003.

Oliver Single begins a promising career in the legal department of his father's banking company, only to gradually realise that its fortunes rest on the laundering of money for organised crime. As the company's biggest partnership, with "entrepeneurs" in the disintegrating Soviet Union, takes shape, Oliver makes the fateful decision to betray his father to the authorities. This part of the story is told in flashback; the main plot of Single and Si...more
Suzierussell
This was my first John Le Carre novel. I usually pass them by, regarding them as boys' books - spies, murder, submarines/guns/planes and boring chase scenes. But one night I was out of books and so desperate for something to read that I scooted over the bed and grabbed the first book I saw on my husband's night stand, fully expecting it to put me to sleep with boredom.

I read half of it that night.

The first chapter is darkly funny, the second full of pathos and introduced some very sympathetic c...more
Jim
This book jumps around chronologically and the story takes its time to unfold. But you're drawn into the story. I liked it better than "Our Kind of Traitor" but it didn't grab & hold my interest like "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold."

Tiger Single is the head of Single & Single, a multinational firm that specializes in money laundering. Tiger's son Oliver is being learning the ropes in the company. The book starts off with the execution style murder of one of Single & Single's attor...more
F.R.
The opening chapter is brilliant. A soft, middle aged corporate lawyer, used to boardrooms and chasing secretaries, has a gun pulled on him and slowly his brain processes the situation he’s in. ‘That can’t be a gun’ he tells himself, ‘My life does not involve such things as guns and being shot’. His realisation that he is indeed about to die and his desperate attempts to try and save himself from a situation he in no way understands is frighteningly well done.

Unfortunately nothing else in this n...more
J.
For nearly anybody else writing these days, this would be a slam-dunk winner. Large canvas and well-developed set of characters that shift and grow with the unspooling of the narrative. Nicely varied set of scenarios, scenery, and atmosphere.

But Le Carré has set the bar too high and when this one hits the doldrums midway, it is nearly lost. All the elaborate mechanisms that are set up in the first third of the novel kind of coast and sputter a bit in the middle section. It doesn't take on a lif...more
Pawanraj
Starts off well.. The first chapter is super reading. A lawyer is murdered by the gang-of-"entrepreneurs" he was working for. Oliver, who is a (former) colleague of the dead lawyer gets involved. He races against time, the establishment and his own morality to try and save his father (and boss) from suffering the same fate.

The story is mostly flashback, as Oliver, has given up on his previous life as a hot-shot lawyer for the Russian "mob". He returns to it, to save the father. The story is pred...more
David
On the page facing the first page of the novel is a simple statement: "Human blood is a commodity. U.S. Federal Trade Commission, 1966". Perhaps William Carlos Williams would have written, in a more grim vein--"So much depends on a red commodity..." since he was a physician as well as a poet.

Blood bonds, wet work, the business of business in a post Soviet world where blood feuds once more become a fact of life. This book is about the politics of blood in many ways. That FTC statement laid the g...more
Jack
...Written in the late '90's, the book takes place in the early to mid 90's around the fall of the Soviet Union. Amongst the calls of glasnost and perestroika, is a story about a Georgian crime syndicate, corrupt Brits, family and betrayal.

“Single & Single” has a touch of a stream-of-conciousness style, that can be difficult to adjust to initially. However, as I went further into the book, I found myself appreciating the level of wit and detail that went into each character. The relationshi...more
Maureen
Aug 06, 2008 Maureen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: novel
For faithful readers of LeCarre, this is a book that had to be written. It is an exploration of the relationship between a father and son, closely mirroring the internal struggle LeCarre had with his own father.

The book opens with as horrifying a description of the mindset of a man about to be murdered as has ever been written. The soon-to-be murdered man is a lawyer for a British investment house. The details of his murder by Russian mobsters in Turkey raise questions with Brock, a British Cus...more
Anna Tan
When a book starts off with the intriguing line This gun is not a gun, you know you're in for a rather interesting read.

Single & Single starts off with the cold-blooded murder of a British corporate lawyer in Turkey. His boss, Tiger Single, the brains behind the financial house Single and Single, goes missing. In the middle of the night, Oliver Hawthorne, a children's entertainer, is questioned about a sudden influx of cash to his daughter's trust fund.

John le Carre explores the shady worl...more
Robert Rosenthal
LeCarre's Single & Single was in many ways a disappointing book. It sets up as an international thriller, opening with a fear-charged scene of a gangland execution, the motive for which we have no clue. But rather than grabbing onto this engine and riding it forward, the story then meanders into the life of its protagonist, who is neither hero nor anti-hero. We don't really know what he wants, other than some sort of reconciliation with or recognition from his jet-set, bigger-than-life fathe...more
Steve
Tiger Single is a fixer, he fixes finance for the underworld of gangsters and crooks giving a veneer of respectability to those businesses. He has many contacts, legal and financial and he also has a son, Oliver, whom he inducts into his business. The plot covers familiar ground in Le Carre’s novels, bankers, lawyers, spooks, and this time Customs & Excise in the form of Nat Brock.

The story moves along at a fast pace along with the said cast there are women, inevitably, many foreign national...more
David Hallard
The commercialisation of the former Soviet Union has been a gift to John LeCarre. His knowledge of its peoples, customs and landscapes colours a narrative with a very different feel to that of his cold war writings. A spy novel without spies (the Foreign Service version at least), 'Single and Single' continues JLC's. fictionalisation of the new territory of espionage, where the bureaucratic has been displaced by the commercial. The core plot, where the Saville Row attired emissaries of light get...more
Sundarraj Kaushik
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shari Mellin
This was my first ever John le Carre book. It's a bit complicated to get into, but the characters are fascinating, both on the "good" side and the "bad" side. Really frightening about the international drug cartels, drug use and countries and agencies that look the other way. The main character, Oliver Single, is a tour de force. I am going to go way back and read some of le Carre's earlier stuff; maybe Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
Manugw
SOMEWHAT TEDIOUS
Though Mr Le Carre knows the complexities and the essence of the spy world probably more than any other author judging by his biography I think that though in Single & Single, he fully goes into these elements to make a story, he fails, unlike other spy authors, to provide ingenious twists and turns and credible suspense to make its work enticing leaving it somewhat dull. In addition, his writing style permanently changes its focus in every paragraph with places, characters a...more
Jarmby
Single and Single was a difficult read .
Le Carre writes a story here that is difficult to follow. There were too many gaps in the narrative that the reader had to deduce or conclude .
Whilst this is very much his style , Single and Single pushed the boundaries of endurability .
The main characters were unconvincing bordering on caricatures and the story they were portraying was mediocre
I was glad to finish this book
David Nelson
Single and Single
is one of Le Carre's first ventures out of the cold war into corporate greed and espionage. What sets this book apart is the audio version which was read by the author.

Having lived in many of the countries his characters move through, it was fascinating to hear just how perfectly he reproduces the accent of each character.

The obnoxious Russian speaking into his black box (new cell phone at the time the novel was written) and the Swiss lawyer in Zurich with the perfect Swiss...more
Gayle Posey
Your first Le Carre takes a little patience, especially his early ones. But with each, you come to believe that he deeply knows his subject. And that together with his beautiful use of the language, makes him a treasure.
Josh Muhlenkamp
This was billed as le Carre's best book in years...but I'm not really sure why, outside of advertising. It was highly predictable, there was very little character development outside the main character.

On top of that, the book lacked excitement. Even the climax was anti-climactic.
Bruce
Oct 12, 2007 Bruce rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fiction readers and listeners
Shelves: fiction
My favorite Le Carre book on tape/CD. The author reads his own story, and the narration is wondrous, especially for us hillbillies who enjoy a variety of British and European accents.
As usual, the plot is somewhat difficult to follow, as the chronology of the story does not follow the page numbers. He moves chunks of the story here and there, requiring the reader to ascertain the chain of events. It seemed easier to follow by listening to the voices than it might have been reading the voices....more
Curtis
I tried to read some John le Carre when I was younger and had a bit of the same issue this time. I have a hard time following his storylines and it sometimes takes me out of the story. I read a lot of more complex stories, such as George R.R. Martin, Dorothy Dunnett or Guy Gavriel Kay. So I should be used to it. But there is something about le Carre that I struggle with.

That being said, I found this to be compelling at times and the lead character is an interesting sort. It does build some momen...more
Mark white
Good solid le Carré. Complex, conflicted characters, layer upon layer of love and betrayal, evil greedy financiers. Love it.
Colin
A surprisingly enjoyable read from a man not exactly known for his light-heartedness.

A man is murdered, shot in the head in rural Turkey even as he begs for life. Meanwhile, at a small town in Devon, a children's entertainer recovering from the breakdown of his marriage is summoned from the guest house where he is staying by his local bank manager.

From these initially unpromising beginnings, Le Carre takes the reader back to the collapse of communism at the beginning of the 90s, and forward from...more
Mavis Thresher
My third le Carre in a row and I'm beginning to get the formula - he has a number of seemingly disparate characters which he eventually brings together. His writing is superb, very literary and, as usual, the ending was somewhat inconclusive.
Aditya
It took me nearly 3 weeks to complete reading this, it wasn't an easy one to read, esp not in bits n pieces. John Le Carre's writing style is quite different, difficult to comprehend, needs lots of concentration, that's true at least in my case.

Coming to the novel, it wasn't so much a complex plot as it's a complex narrative. More than half the novel is full of gibberish thoughts going through the minds of different ppl, predominantly the chief protagonist Single Jr. Most of the places i enjoyed...more
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John le Carré, the pseudonym of David John Moore Cornwell (born 19 October 1931 in Poole, Dorset, England), is an English author of espionage novels. Le Carré has resided in St Buryan, Cornwall, Great Britain, for more than forty years where he owns a mile of cliff close to Land's End.
More about John le Carré...
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy The Spy Who Came In from the Cold Smiley's People The Russia House The Constant Gardener

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