Mar 17, 12
Read in March, 2012
On a Le Carre kick lately and decided to pick up a very early Smiley book by him. This is not really a spy story--Smiley's profession is simply the framing device and way of getting into the murder mystery. The driving impetus behind the book, as Le Carre says in the preface, is a deep revulsion toward British boarding schools, which he communicates exquisitely well. The book is witty, bitter, and probably worth reading just for the scathing portraits and acidic commentary. As a murder mystery, however, it suffers from one major flaw of characterization (there's a character twist which I simply find requires either a heroic suspension of disbelief or a heaping helping of misogyny to accept) and one major flaw of plotting (in the form of a point-of-view that can't be accurate if the rest of the book is). These bring the rating down quite a bit, but the tone and language (and glimpse of a younger Geoge Smiley) are all interesting.