Richard Barnes's Reviews > Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré
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May 14, 12

Read in May, 2012

A long, slow, luxurious book - a writer who's confidence with words shines through, a skillful piece where the language and the pace all serve to support the atmosphere that pervades the whole novel. Not a thrill-packed page-turner, like red bull and vodka, more of a full-bodied pinot noir which is taken slowly and where every mouthful is savoured.

Le Carre doesn't give you an easy ride; the story of plots and counter plots and spies spying on spies spying on spies is as complicated as the rich characters that tell the story. Le Carre uses a whole lexicon of spies; a world of legmen, moles, scalphunters and Mothers - and doesn't pause to hold the reader's hand. How pleasant it is to be treated like an adult.

I give it 5 stars because people should read this. I've got nothing against the pulp action of Clive Cussler, or even the techno thrills of Tom Clancy. I thoroughly enjoyed Bravo Two Zero. But, this a different kind of thriller. Deep, autumnal melancholy fills the pages, there is no triumph in the pursuit of the traitor, only a weary acceptance of another victim of the game.

I'd liken Le Carre to Colin Dexter (of Inspector Morse fame) - one could mistake their work for simple genre pieces, but both are craftsmen, using words to wonderful effect. This is storytelling at its best.
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