Our Kind of Traitor Our Kind of Traitor question

The Ending...
Dave Champ Dave Mar 20, 2013 12:22PM
Okay, so I listened to this on CD and thought I caught the whole ending, but maybe not... Here's what I think happens:

I know Dima dies in the plane "crash" - but does Luke (or Perry, for that matter) die with him? And do we know who is behind this? I mean, I know that the last line of the book is, "No group took responsibility." But are any of our main characters (specifically Hector or Luke) implicated as well? I guess I took the ending to mean it could be any of several groups - the Swiss government, the Russian govt, the higher-ups at the Service (siding with Aubrey rather than Hector), or of course the Prince - and the whole point is that it could have been any of these. Yes?

Reminds me of the ending of A Most Wanted Man - also by JLC. Just a sad, intentionally unsatisfying ending (though I liked "Man" a little better because it really captured a whole thing around terrorism and its suspects). What did you think?

I read the book recently and like Ross was very disappointed in the ending. It's been a few years since I've read any of LeCarre's books, though I was an avid fan at the time. This just seemed so pedantic.

The Swiss bankers and certain members of the English government had reasons to make the Russian mob happy and to keep Dima from telling all. It is a Swiss policeman who clocks Gail when she is out finding and we are led to believe that from that point, Dima's enemies are able to home in on his location. I think we are to believe that the Russian mob actually arranges the sabotage of the plane, but are able to do so because of cooperation of corrupt elements in both Britain and Switzerland.

I dont think we should expect Le Carre to explain the ending, or provide an epilogue regarding what happens to Dima's family. Remember he worked for the Secret Service himself and many of his novels make it clear that the higher-ups are usually one step ahead. To me it is most probable that MI6 killed Dima and Luke, with Prince's help, so that they would not have to deal with the embarrassing info that Dima possessed. Of course the billions of laundered money was needed in London, Aubrey and Bunny made a bundle no doubt, Prince maintains control for now, Dima's wife and family were likely absorbed back into Russian society - but who really knows? The world at that level is seedy, dark, with unprincipled decision makers, and money being the usual objective. I dont really like the ending either, but it's perfect.

I'm puzzled by the comments - that the ending would be bad was certain from the start, it's kind of an unwritten rule, as in Greek tragedy. At any rate the Swiss are innocent, if they wanted to do away with those two they could easily have done it while they were on Swiss territory, no need to have an explosion aboard an aircraft with debris falling on foreign ground. Might the poison-tip umbrella holding, polonium210-laced tea drinking, crew be in any way involved? Or their friends and supporters in London, where the crew in question seems to hang out? Or, more likely, both!

The book went from 3 stars to 1 1/2 stars on the final page. The people in London wanted Dima. They would not be so stupid as to not have the plane combed clean of any planted bomb.

Old thread but a book's reading is timeless. Disappointed by the ending, seems that shock was the only way to accomplish the end to a below par book of Le Carrie's...I guess all books can't be Tinker Tailor etc. Epilogue would have been better, outlining the fallout and Hector's trying to figure out how exactly it happened while he was in exile to some bland part of the Service.

There's a very bleak unstated running theme that the bad guys (Aubrey+Prince&c) have been one step ahead the whole way, and could have snuffed out Dima or anyone or everyone whenever they liked.

Dima and Luke are killed in the plane crash. Perry watches from the airport as the sirens begin to sound. The rest of the characters are left to fend for themselves, not even afterthoughts for the decision-makers in London, Berne and Moscow.

Hector had to go to the higher-ups, and one of them tipped off the ex-MI6 spy (the one who was working for the Russians). They compromised Hector's plans and got the bomb on the plane. Perhaps Billy Boy did the compromising.

But yeah, don't Hector's guys check their own plane for bombs?

The ending was a shock, but when you consider all the machinations by the various London departments, it makes sense. Yes, Dima and Luke die while Perry watches. One can presume that Hector will figure it out. I thought it was an excellent story and well written by the master of spy novels.

I just finished the book a few hours ago and felt the need to see if anyone felt cheated by the ending.
I was an avid fan of Mr Le Carre till a few years ago when I stopped feeling the words as I once had. Still, every few years I walk into a book store to find he has written a couple more novels and can't help picking one up. Most often than not I find he still has the style, the ideas are there and the characterization is rich. But today I feel shortchanged.
It may be that I am such a basic reader that I demand just a tad more resolution than this novel offers. An explosion in the distance is something you end a chapter on, or at least one that is followed by a small epilogue offering a small sense of closure, but not a complete novel. It matters little who put the bomb. In this sort of tale not knowing is part of the point when dealing with corrupt and criminal forces. But there is a whole family marooned, a couple whose lives are probably at risk, and an old spy who may or may not have sold them all out with no apparent reason. Yes, Dimas died, and so did Luke, but everyone else's lives did not end with them. Neither dead man was big enough to mark the absolute end of the story, nor the rest of the characters minor enough to just be put out of my mind in a single page... The end felt lazy, cheap even. Far less than I expected from this writer; I know wonder if there is any point in reading his other recent works.

Nick Baam I agree w you. But not about wondering if you should still read le Carre. Read Honourable Schoolboy? Tailor of Panama?
Apr 20, 2017 09:49AM

Tim (last edited Sep 28, 2013 01:07PM ) Sep 28, 2013 01:07PM   -1 votes
Like one of the prior commenters, I could see a bad end coming, but I was still shocked when it happened. I too could not get to sleep for a few hours.

I was left completely unsure who actually did the killing. I had half a notion it was Hector, but I did not want to believe that. But still, I cannot figure out who else would have known enough about the people hiding in Switzerland to accomplish it.

As usual in le Carre's novels, the powers that be and the money interests (the same, actually) wiped out those who were trying to do something right. Sadly, this rings true.

The London masters in the appropriate MI department do not want Dima on English soil. That is made quite apparent in numerous conversations.

Operationally the group that includes Perry and yanks Gail's chain too, are really operating off the books. One could even say that they are an unauthorized operation to the point of illegality or certainly embarrassment to the British Secret Service.

Hints exist on page after page in very standard Cold War/Espionage fictional literature style that an all too unpleasant ending is coming. Desperation and impatience, involvement of amateurs as cutouts or scapegoats, neglect of operatives and assets, and maybe of most importance, the hint of far greater things at play than one slavic criminal and his information are direct clues that a bad ending is nigh.

I'd go as far as to say that Luke's final appearance and demeanor indicates that he may know that the British themselves are going to take down the plane.

The book is nearly a primer on post Cold War espionage works from LeCarré. There are a few other comments in my goodreads review -> http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/....

Lorenzo Bedini Although I'm a great fan of J le C, I think many of his books are marred by nihilistic endings. These are thought to be 'literary', which is an unfort ...more
Jun 29, 2016 09:34AM · flag

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