George Smiley returns! To Sarratt, to speak forsoothingly of agents and ops past to the aspiring agents of the future. Told from the viewpoint of Ned,George Smiley returns! To Sarratt, to speak forsoothingly of agents and ops past to the aspiring agents of the future. Told from the viewpoint of Ned, one of Smiley's own agents in times past, this book is a series of vignettes of Ned's cases, each introduced by a story from Smiley. It's fun visiting with Smiley again, and there are plenty of on-screen appearances by le Carré's Big Bad, Bill Hayden, but this book didn't necessarily come fully together for me until the last page of the last chapter, when Ned on his last day on duty before retirement is sent down to give a come-to-Jesus speech to an arms dealer who doesn't want to retire. Sir Anthony, the arms dealer, replies in part thusly
"I'm sorry," he began, which was a lie to start with. "Did I understand you were appealing to my conscience? Good. Right. Make a statement for the record. Mind? Statement begins here. Point One. There is only one point actually. I don't give a fart. The different between me and other charlies is, I admit it. If a horde of niggers--yes, I said niggers, I meant niggers--if these niggers shot each other dead with my toys tomorrow and I made a bob out of it, great news by me. Because if I don't sell 'em the goods, some other charlies will...I'm Pharaoh, right? If a few thousand slaves have to die so that I can build this pyramid, nature."
And poor, shell-shocked Ned can only think
...the evil that stood before me now was a wrecking infant in our own midst, and I became an infant in return, disarmed, speechless and betrayed. For a moment, it was as if my whole life had been fought against the wrong enemy...I thought of telling him that now we had defeated Communism, we were going to have to set about defeating capitalism, but that wasn't really my point: the evil was not in the system, but in the man.
le Carré published this book in 1990, twenty-six years before the election of 2016. I don't know if I'm more awed or more depressed by his prescience....more
This is a very mannerly, manorly mystery, set in Victorian England and starring the widowed Laetitia Rodd and her lawyer brother, who ropes her in onThis is a very mannerly, manorly mystery, set in Victorian England and starring the widowed Laetitia Rodd and her lawyer brother, who ropes her in on investigations that require a genteel touch. The characters are good, including a truly evil villain, and every detail about the time and place rings true, no anachronisms, my pet peeve in any historical fiction.
Supposed to be first in a series but Laetiticia continually refers to previous cases, so I'm guessing the author is going to be some to-ing and fro-ing in the timeline in future books. I'm up for that....more
The fifth in the Monkeewrench crime series and the best so far. Killers are posting video of murders online. The killers are so good at concealing theThe fifth in the Monkeewrench crime series and the best so far. Killers are posting video of murders online. The killers are so good at concealing their online IDs that the FBI convenes a group of the worst known hackers to ask for their help. Monkeewrench, aka Grace MacBride, Annie Belinsky, Harley Davidson and Roadrunner and computer nerds extraordinaire, steps up to help Minneapolis police detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth and FBI agent John Smith unravel a plot that feels far too realistic for the reader ever to be comfortable online again
"It's a support structure. And her assumption is, it can escalate into reality from there. How many of the school shootings in the last few years would have happened if Columbine hadn't happened first?" "So what we might have is a bunch of amoral whack jobs telling the other amoral whack jobs out there that it's A-okay to murder, and then they all start believing it for real?" "Yeah, like that." "Sounds like Lord of the Flies and a twelve-step program for homicide all rolled into one." "That's what she's afraid is happening. That the Web is actually enabling these monsters and the community is getting stronger."
and the usual terrific asides on Minnesota
Lake Superior, the Norwegian Riviera.
and each other
A Fed with a python miniskirt. That kind of gives me reason to live."
and cop talk
Chelsea was sitting very quietly at the table, looking down at her lap as she listened to two homicide cops talk horror shop.
and maybe a little cop wish fulfillment
And we've got a warrant. Judge said we had the go-ahead to search his nostrils with a power drill if we wanted."
not to mention some first-rate social commentary
Judge Jim was sitting in his office, reflecting on the history of technology. Invariably, all the powerful technological tools that were invented for the good of mankind ultimately fell into hands that turned them toward evil. Dr. Richard Gatling invented his rapid-fire weapon because he thought it would end war. The A-bomb was invented for the same reason, and now every crazy fucker had one. The people behind weapons of destruction should have spent less time in their labs and more time on the streets, observing humanity. And now, the World Wide Web...
Great setting, great characters (with new ones in every sequel you wouldn't mind following off into their own novels), and a very scary plot with an excellent twist at the end. Although I don't think that can be the end, really. Read it and you tell me. Maybe I just don't want it to be. Recommended.
The third in the Ike Schwartz series, about a ex-spook small town sheriff in the Shenandoah Valley in rural Virginia. This time someone has dumped a bThe third in the Ike Schwartz series, about a ex-spook small town sheriff in the Shenandoah Valley in rural Virginia. This time someone has dumped a body in Ike's jurisdiction (well, six feet his side of the county line, anyway). The bad news is his deputy says it looks like a member of one of the feuding families of Buffalo Mountain. The worse news is it isn't, it's an ex-Soviet spy of Ike's previous acquaintance.
It's always amazing to me how much Ramsay can pack into 257 pages. Here there is the main plot of figuring out who killed the dead guy, Ike's relationship with Ruth, Ruth's relationship with Ike's parents, Deputy Sam's relationship with a Feeb, Ike's past relationship with the CIA and the role it may or may not have had in the death of his wife, Deputy Billingsley's persistent, painstaking pursuit that ends in a did-not-see-that-coming way, the wonderful characters of Colonel Twelvetrees and Master Sergeant T.J, plus we now know that Harley-Davidson has special paint for its motorcycles, and then after all that Ramsay finds room for an intermittent, book-long rant at bad thriller novels
"Can't anyone write a decent thriller anymore?" she said to the trashcan. "Is it too much to ask for the plot to be at least plausible and the characters realistic?" She realized that this was the eighth in the Sledge series and by now the author didn't have to work at his craft. His books were all marked, By Best Selling Author... and that was sufficient to move them briskly off the shelves.
Ouch. And Ramsay has gone to the effort of writing excerpts. Delightful....more