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Our Kind of Traitor Paperback – 10 Apr 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (10 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241967856
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241967850
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (223 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John le Carré was born in 1931. His third novel, THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, secured him a wide reputation which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, THE HONOURABLE SCHOOLBOY and SMILEY'S PEOPLE. His other novels include THE CONSTANT GARDENER, A MOST WANTED MAN and OUR KIND OF TRAITOR.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Our Kind of Traitor is a reminder – if such a thing were needed – that John le Carré is comfortably still at the top of the tree in arena of the intelligent thriller; he is still writing books for readers who want some texture to their genre reading. But – to rehearse the old debate -- is le Carré a genre writer – or simply a first-rate novelist? Very few would now argue with the latter assessment. The Spy who Came in from the Cold, his first real-calling card book, took the world of espionage thrillers by storm back in 1963, and that brilliantly written examination of the betrayal and duplicities of the Cold War both changed the face of the spy novel and marked le Carré out as the essential writer in the field – a badge he’s sported ever since. Subsequently, the much-acclaimed series of novels featuring the subtle spymaster George Smiley (inaugurated with Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in 1974) made much else in the field seem superficial and unambitious. While there was a move away from the pared-to-the-bone precision of the earlier books, the sprawling canvas of the Smiley sequence allowed the author to add new levels to the popular novel, making them as rich as more overtly ‘literary’ fare.

After recent work taking on American foreign policy (a bête noir of the author) and the big pharmaceutical companies, le Carré has returned to the concision of his early work, and in Our Kind of Traitor has delivered one of his most sheerly satisfying novels in years.

Britain is suffering under the recession, and a young couple – a leftish academic and his girlfriend (who is in the legal profession) – escape a depressed UK for a leisurely break on the Caribbean island of Antigua. But a meeting with a Russian millionaire by the name of Dima plunges the couple down the rabbit hole in a dizzying, picaresque odyssey in which the worlds of the City of London and the shadowy corridors of espionage collide.

In many ways, this is quite unlike any other John le Carré novel, even as it utilises familiar tropes. And the surprises here (which it would be criminal to reveal) demonstrate that one of our greatest writers – to his considerable credit – is refusing to stand still. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

A remarkable book by the master. Reading it is a great experience (Henning Mankell Daily Telegraph)

A compelling tale of deceit, dialogue and the author's own despair . . . This is a story with frenzy at its heart (James Naughtie Daily Telegraph)

John le Carré's bullet train of a new thriller is part vintage John le Carré and part Alfred Hitchcock . . . The author's most thrilling thriller in years (The New York Times)

If you want to know about the state of Britain today, forget the Booker shortlist. Just read John le Carré's latest thriller (Evening Standard)

Few recent plays have had dialogue as good, and few recent literary novels can boast a set of characters so vividly imagined. Our Kind of Traitor is a teasing, beguiling, masterly performance (Sunday Times)

A compelling tale of deceit, dialogue and the author's own despair John le Carré's greatest gift may be his ear, which allows him to pick up a tremor of fear in the softest voice or a false note in any exchange of words and play with them to his heart's content. He can therefore create, in dialogue, a trembling soundscape that has a pitch-perfect quality (Sunday Telegraph)

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By I bite on 5 July 2014
Format: Paperback
I just love John le Carre's books. He conjures a world of intrigue and double-dealing so effortlessly. This story is no exception as the British Secret Service butts it's head against the Russian Mafia in a tale of unremitting treachery.
Dima is a Russian Mafiosi with a skill in money laundering the spoils of the group's illegal operations worldwide but he falls foul of a younger generation of gangsters and offers his secrets to MI6 in return for a safe haven for himself and his family in the U.K.
He uses an unconnected Oxford Don and his lawyer girlfriend as trusted intermediaries and the pair become emotionally involved with Dima and his children as they pursue his cause with the British spies.
Enter now the self-interest of the British Establishment and their political allies, some of whom are deeply entwined with the dealings of the Russians. Bearing in mind the recent 'loss' of secret dossiers with regard to paedophilia within the establishment, the machinations in le Carre's book have a strong ring of truth to them.
I am not going to spoil the ending for future readers. Enjoy the journey.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brian R. Martin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 Nov. 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
John le Carré's spy novels from the cold war period are rightly regarded as masterpieces of the genre, but with the ending of that phase of history, he has turned to other areas of deception, involving big business, the financial industry, corrupt governments etc. This is one such novel. It starts when a rather naïve academic, Perry, and his lawyer girlfriend, Gail, are holidaying in Antigua when they are befriended by a rich, scary Russian called Dima and his somewhat weird family. Dima is the number one money launderer for Russian mafia-style gangsters, but he has fallen out with them and is afraid that they are about to kill him, just as they recently murdered his close friend. Dima asks Perry to transmit a message to the British security service to the effect that he will `tell all' about the illegal financial activities of the great and the good, including a senior British MP, in exchange of a safe home in England for himself and his family, together with his considerable fortune. This is a highly improbable way to start a novel. What are the chances that a random tourist would know how to contact the security service, and what would Dima have done had Perry declined. Just try another random tourist?

Perry does in fact contact the intelligence service via a fellow academic, and the next part of the book is a long very forensically detailed interrogation of Perry and Gail about the events on Antigua. The secret service personnel who conduct the interviews are unfortunately stereotypes from an earlier age, and I refuse to believe that MI6 is staffed by senior people who still eat `school dinners' in stuffy clubs in Pall Mall and use language from forty years ago.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Ripple TOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover
With Le Carré, you don't get mad action. You get people. This is no exception. It's certainly not his greatest work, but it's still a lot better than a lot of spy novels that are out there. Perhaps, it is ultimately a bit predictable, but as ever, you are never quite sure. And when the end comes, it comes suddenly and that can lead to some suggestions of "running out of steam", but how else could it have ended?

When academic Perry and his girlfriend Gail find themselves on a tennis break in Antigua, they have no idea that their lives are going to be turned upside down when they meet a rich and somewhat scarey Russian who wants to play Perry at tennis. Soon, Perry and Gail are unwittingly involved in a bid for asylum as the Russian, Dima, has information that will be of interest to the powers that be, certainly involving the banking sector. This is Le Carré right up to date, full of talk of recession and banking meltdown.

As with any good spy book, we spend time in Paris as well as Antigua, London and Switzerland, with a short jaunt to Russia thrown in for good measure. Le Carré writes beautifully (his dialogue in particular is always authentic) and creates completely believable characters all with their own little character weaknesses. And if Le Carré's best works have been in the Cold War era, you have to admire the resilience of the man to adapt his novels to more modern times.

It's certainly well worth a read, providing you are not expecting vintage Le Carré.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Fitzpatrick on 10 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
I've read quite a few of Le Carré's books over the years - including The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, Smiley's People, The Russia House, The Little Drummer Girl and The Tailor of Panama - and have never understood why he has such a high reputation.

This book consists of a 305-page build-up to what I assume is meant to be a dramatic ending although it just fizzles out like a damp squib.

Like The Russia House, it has never-ending interviews and debriefing sessions during which the characters take pages to say nothing.

Le Carré's plots creak and groan like an old oak staircase, the narrative proceeds at snail pace and the reader is subjected to upper and middle class English mores and public school slang.

At times, I felt I had stumbled into a parody of P.G. Wodehouse as the manly English "hero" agrees to act as a mediator between a Russian money launderer he meets in Antigua while on holiday and the British secret service.

The Russian is pure cliché - bald, built like a bear, tattooed, mawkishly friendly one minute, menacing the next, hitting the vodka bottle every page or so and surrounded by villainous body guards whom he does not trust -while the Englishman plays tennis with him and teaches his children to play cricket on a beach.

One of the scenes in this book takes place in a top spy's rundown club in Pall Mall overlooking Regent's Park where the characters drink "vile claret" and eat "shepherd's pie and school cabbage" followed by bread-and-butter pudding while dabbing their mouths with a "moth-eaten damask napkin" as an ageing servant in a "red hunting jacket" shuffles by pushing a "clanking silver trolley".

They say things like: "Bought 'em a sweet little house in Bloomsbury....
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