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Single & Single

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  2,993 Ratings  ·  216 Reviews
A lawyer from the London finance house of Single & Single is shot dead on a Turkish hillside by people with whom he thought he was in business. A children's magician in the English countryside is asked by his bank to explain the unsolicited arrival of more than five million pounds sterling in his young daughter's modest trust. A freighter bound for Liverpool is boarded ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Hodder And Stoughton Ltd. (first published March 1999)
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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréThe Bourne Identity by Robert LudlumThe Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le CarréThe Hunt for Red October by Tom ClancyThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
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978 books — 1,720 voters
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. RowlingThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen ChboskyGirl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy ChevalierSpeak by Laurie Halse AndersonThe Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
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307 books — 160 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
The monsters of our childhood do not fade away, neither are they ever wholly monstrous. But neither, in my experience, do we ever reach a plane of detachment regarding our parents, however wise and old we may become. To pretend otherwise is to cheat.
-- John le Carre


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
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:

Hugh Ashton
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
May 29, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Perry Whitford
Jan 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's the early 1990's and the Cold War may well be over (for the time being, anyway) but John le Carre just can't leave Russia alone. And why should he? What with all those oligarchs dismantling the old apparatus of the Soviet state and untold, underhand billions to made out of oil, iron and blood.

Not metaphorical blood either. Real blood.

The House of Single is London's foremost financial company with its fingers in the new pie. Tiger Single, its founder, is determined to get his fair share of
Paula Dembeck
Apr 16, 2017 rated it liked it
This LeCarre thriller opens with the reader dropped into the middle of a riveting scene on a hilltop in Turkey and played out to its predetermined conclusion. Alfred Winser, the chief legal counsel and board member of the finance house of Single and Single is summarily executed but not before LeCarre has taken the reader into Winser’s head as he spins through pictures from his past life and watches as a man produces a video camera and another aims a pistol in his face. From here, the reader must ...more
Simon Mcleish
Jan 29, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
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
Aug 17, 2013 added it
I love John le Carre. I really, really, really do. (Check my other reviews.) But for this book, Single & Single, my rating

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
Jul 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 04, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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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 40 years, where he owns a mile of cliff close to Land's End.

See also: John le Carré - Wikipedia
More about John le Carré...