Having read several of John le Carré's works, I feel that his particular forte is creating for his characters environments that have an amazing amountHaving read several of John le Carré's works, I feel that his particular forte is creating for his characters environments that have an amazing amount of stress. He ratchets up drama by putting his characters in extremely difficult situations and then continuing to crank up the stress level. Of his novels that I have read, the previous epitome of these super stress levels was The Spy Who Came In from the Cold. However, I think the stress in The Little Drummer Girl tops even that work.
The title character in this book is Charlie, a aspiring English stage actress. While on holiday in Greece with some fellow struggling thespians, the young Charlie encounters a tall, dark and handsome stranger who turns out to be an Israeli spy. The job of Gadi Becker (aka Joseph) is to convince Charlie to take an unique acting opportunity. The Israelis know that Charlie has left-leaning views and through a previous boyfriend has had encounters with members of some extremist groups. The Israeli groups's plan is to have Joseph emulate a captured Palestinian terrorist known as Michel. In this role, he will train Charlie to infiltrate a leftist terrorist group with links to Palestinians. The Israeli spy group's ultimate goal is Michel's brother Khalil who is a major leader in a Palestinian terrorist group. Charlie accepts the opportunity and delves into what she terms "the theater of the real."
I think that the book does a great job of presenting both sides of the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis. There is much doubt as to Charlie's true sympathies. In the end, the central question of the book is not on which side of the conflict Charlie will end up or if her mission will be a success. The question is if Charlie will just survive the mission with her sanity intact....more
This book is eighth and final of John le Carré's works featuring his most well-known character, George Smiley. I have read five of the previous sevenThis book is eighth and final of John le Carré's works featuring his most well-known character, George Smiley. I have read five of the previous seven novels, and of those previous works, I think this one is most similar to The Looking Glass War in the fact that Smiley is not the main character but plays an ancillary role. The main character is a fellow spy by the name of Ned who due to the outcome of the Russia House as come to serve as the headmaster of the training academy for new agents. Ned has invited the now-retired Smiley to visit the school and address the new group of recruits.
This book does not read like a single coherent novel but rather like a group of episodic short stories or chronological vignettes. With the background of Smiley speaking to the agents-in-training, Ned reminisces about his own career starting with his first adventure as a young intelligence officer. Each episode is interesting own its own and helps develop Ned into a full-featured character. I suppose the aim of the overall novel is to highlight the themes of the Smiley series as it brings the series to a close....more
In my opinion, the grand master Ian Fleming swung and missed on this one. I suppose one should not expect an author to hit a gland slam every time outIn my opinion, the grand master Ian Fleming swung and missed on this one. I suppose one should not expect an author to hit a gland slam every time out, nor should one expect every book in a series to live up to the previous works. There can be duds, and this is one.
The main character and narrator is Viv Michaels, a young French Canadian who was sent to finishing school in England by her aunt. After school, she spends a few years in Chelsea. After a brief return to Quebec, she departs on a journey down the United States on her Vespa motor scooter.
I do not think having a female character narrate a James Bond thriller is a bad idea, and I appreciate the author taking a risk with this popular series. Unfortunately, that that risk just does not pan out in this book. Perhaps if the narrator had been a femme fatale, the idea would have worked much better. In this case, the first half of the novel basically reads how I think a bad Harlequin romance would open.
James Bond does not make his appearance until about midway through the story. The most interesting part of the whole work is one chapter that explains how Bond has come to arrived at a motel in the Adirondack Mountains. This one chapter almost makes this book an actual spy novel. I think a fleshed out version of Bond's adventure up to that point should have been the meat of this work.
After arriving at the motel, Bond finds our narrator in some trouble. Viv has been working at the motel ever since stopping a few weeks earlier, and now that the tourist season has ended and the main proprietors have left for the winter, she is manning the place on her own. Needlessly to say, Bond helps her out of her jam.
While the last quarter of the book is exciting, it does not compensate for the mind-numbing first half nor the tease of an spy novel that is the Bond's backstory. I am ready to put this one behind me and move on the next in the series, On Her Majesty's Secret Service....more