Cloggie: Books: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
John Le Carre
317 pages
published in 1974

I'm not normally a big fan of spy novels, of Ian Fleming and his ilk. Nor have I much of a passion for Le Carre's work. I had read The Spy Who Came in from the Cold in translation when I was twelve or so, but that's about it.

Still, when I saw this book and The Honest Schoolboy on the shelves of a local used bookstore, for three guilders each, I nabbed them quickly. After all, I'm always on the lookout for good books. Furthermore I had been hearing good things about Le Carre recently and was half and half intending to check him out again. (I tend to be influenced quite a lot in my reading choices by which books others are talking about...)

Happily, I quite liked Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It has a quintessial Britishness to it that also attracted me to authors like Dorothy Sayers or P. G. Wodehouse. It's a spy novel, but not of the James Bond kind. Instead of sunny Jamaica it has rainy days in London and instead of a lady killer it has a middle aged hero whose marriage has failed.

Said hero is George Smiley, an inoffesive meek fat little bureaucrat who has been forcibly retired at the start of the story. A protege of Control, the previous head of the Circus, the British intelligence service, Smiley fell in disgrace by Control's succesor, because Smiley was suspected of having played a role in Control's last disastrous espionage mission. Now he's approached by the Foreign Ministry because it seems not everything is right within the Circus. It's Smiley's mission to search out what's going on and if there's indeed a mole within the organisation.

Slowly, step by step the mystery is unraveled and is revealed what happened on that disastrous operation in Chzechoslovakia. In spirit, it's all very similar to a classic British murder mystery. There's a crime, a body so to speak and it's Smiley's job to deduce what has happened and who was responsible.

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Webpage created 22-12-2001, last updated 23-12-2001
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