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Friday, May 18, 2012

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre

Title: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Author: John le Carre
Publisher: Scribner Book Company
Genre: Spy Thriller
Pages: 379
How I Read It: Paperback purchased by me.
ISBN: 9780743457903
My Rating: 3 Crowns

Synopsis: “It’s the oldest question of all, George.  Who can spy on the spies?”

The man he knew as “Control” is dead, and the young Turks who forced him out now run the Circus.  But George Smiley isn’t quite ready for retirement – especially when a pretty, would-be defector surfaces with a shocking accusation: a Soviet mole has penetrated the highest level of British Intelligence.  Relying only on his wits and a small, loyal cadre, Smiley recognizes the hand of Karla – his Moscow Centre nemesis – and sets a trap to catch the traitor.

*Synopsis taken from the book

My Review: Despite my willingness to read almost anything, I haven’t really ever read much in the spy genre.  The closest I come is usually something on the mystery front, cuz sometimes there’s some spying involved there.  However, I saw the movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy when it was out over the winter, and decided I would like to read the book because I enjoyed the movie so much.

There were parts of the movie that were kind of confusing to me, this is a convoluted plot and due to the length of the book, some bits got lost in translation.  I was really happy to have a lot of that cleared up through reading the book, and the semi familiarity with the plot also made it easier to understand pieces of the book.  So that in itself makes this a great movie adaptation, in my world.

I think the message I got out of this story is that the life of a spy is both dangerous and confusing.  We already know the missions are dangerous and you can’t trust people in the field, and it’s a little disheartening to realize you can’t exactly trust people at home either.  When all of your superiors and colleagues are suspects, where can you really turn?

This was also a good ensemble cast – we focus on a variety of characters, even though George Smiley is a well known guy among the works of this author.  I like this approach to the story, because we get the chance to grow to like a variety of people, not just Smiley, and it also doesn’t depend on having prior knowledge of that particular character.

Since I had seen the movie, I already knew who the mole was, so this was more of a watching and waiting kind of situation for me.  I still found it interesting to see the process they went through to eventually figure out who the villain is, and some of the things that I didn’t understand in the movie made a lot more sense when I read how it all played out.

I liked this introduction to John le Carre, and I bet I’ll be reading something else of his in the future.  Smiley is a likeable hero and that in itself provides motivation to learn more about him!

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