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Single and Single [Hardcover]

John Le Carré
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
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Book Description

22 Feb 1999
A corporate lawyer from the House of Single & Single is shot dead in cold blood on a Turkish hillside. A children's entertainer in Devon is hauled to his local bank late at night to explain a monumental influx of cash. A Russian freighter is arrested in the Black Sea. A celebrated London financier has disappeared into thin air. A British customs officer is on a trail of corruption and murder. The logical connection of these events is one of the many pleasures of this extraordinary new novel of love, deceit and the triumph of humanity. SINGLE & SINGLE is a thrilling journey of the human heart - intimate, magical and riotous, revealing le Carré at the height of his dramatic and creative powers.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; First Edition edition (22 Feb 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340738979
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340738979
  • Product Dimensions: 3.3 x 16.2 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 476,905 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

Those who have followed le Carré's remarkable progress as writer (from the lean and brilliantly-plotted The Spy Who Came in from the Cold onwards) will be aware that the end of the Cold War gave the author no pause at all; while other espionage writers were floundering around for a subject, le Carré was able to deal with the dangerous realities of the modern world in precisely the same compulsive way he had always done. If some of the recent novels have, nevertheless, not had quite the elegant and commanding power of his best work, it's refreshing to welcome this new book as one of his most assured in years.

A corporate lawyer is brutally killed on a hillside in Turkey, and the reader is transported into a disparate but compelling series of events, taking us from a Devon seaside resort through the lethal world of the Russian Mafiosi to a tense climax in the High Caucasus. Of course, for le Carré character is every bit as important as plot: his protagonist, concealing his past security work by working as a children's magician, has failings as a father (which match the problems he had with his own father). In terms of the narrative, as so often before, the author has us at his command from the very first page.--Barry Forshaw


'...more than just a great storyteller. In SINGLE & SINGLE he captures the Zeitgeist itself' (Tom Wolfe)

'The finest imaginative social historian of the post-war years' (Times Literary Supplement)

'In his maturity, he has done for popular fiction what the young Marlon Brando did for Hollywood ... SINGLE & SINGLE is an adventure that takes us to the ends of the earth via the rich but often barren landscape of the human heart' (Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blood will tell 7 Feb 2005
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
Le Carre's writing talents didn't tumble with The Berlin Wall. Since the fading of the Cold War, he's demonstrated his continuing ability to weave a plot and image people apart from those in the espionage game. In this book, the Russians are still with us, but in a whole new light - they're active capitalists trying to make a ruble. Any way they can. Flogging "clean Caucasoid blood" to the West is merely an opening gambit, but it's a start. In support of this immaculate enterprise, the financial house of Single is recruited for money management. Tiger Single, the senior partner, with his son Oliver, are set to reap a fortune. Certain events impair the smooth flow of cash, and the Russian partners turn to a new means of profit-making, drugs. As a lawyer in a financial management organization, Oliver draws the line at drugs. It jeopardizes the future of the firm, and his own. He informs on his father to government officials in the hope of cutting a deal.
Like many other Le Carre novels, this one eschews a simple linear plot format. You are offered a thread to study, then another seemingly unrelated, one. You must carry the information you're given when other threads emerge. But Le Carre never leaves you hanging or lost. The threads begin to come together in the rich tapestry Le Carre is so talented at weaving. Nothing is inevitable, the twists are sometimes abrupt, but never implausible. There are no real weaknesses in this plot. Some of the characterization, however, seems a bit contrived, unusual in Le Carre.
Although not an espionage novel, Le Carre draws Oliver as if he was a George Smiley operative. He goes to ground with amazing skill for a lawyer, his cover the performance of children's magic shows.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who Knows What? 24 Mar 1999
By A Customer
How information may be used and manipulated, how it may destroy, is at the centre of Le Carre's new novel. The plot involves con artists at the very top end of the market. Tiger Single is a wheeler-dealer setting up world-wide scams, currently with the Georgian mafia. He's a sort of hybrid Tiny Rowland/Al- Fayed/Robert Maxwell who brings his son, Oliver, into the business just when the commodity market is getting dirtier and dirtier. (Read pages 82-83 for a breakdown of just how dirty.) When Oliver discovers what Single's latest 'line' is he blows the whistle and disappears into a new identity as a children's entertainer. Several years later, as Tiger's empire begins to unravel, Oliver is forced out into the open again. The Georgians are in a vengeful rage and in the UK Nat Brock, Oliver's official contact and very own Smiley, spots an opportunity to expose some extremely high level corruption. The twists and turns are gripping, with everybody asking things like who knows what? how do they know it? can we get them to tell us? will they know that we know? and so on. As always, Le Carre's prose is a delight -but where did he come across the phrase 'chinese take-in'?- and he gracefully adds another dimension to the thriller.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars could have been... 26 Dec 2000
By A Customer
I can't help wishing that this had been a longer novel. Le Carre takes us to some of the most politically hot areas of the world(Russia,Georgia,Turkey)and has a great theme in post cold war Russia and the infinitly sleazy world of finance but deals with it all too quickly.He shows all his usual skill in creating characters to voice the cynicism and hopeless idealism that is often at the centre of his books but gives them too short a time on stage and with less of the detail of place and motivation that really fleshes them out.For fans of le Carre this book is also the third(?) to explore the relationship between son and his robber baron father that started in "the Honorable schoolboy" and was central to "a perfect spy" where its was so well done that to have a reprisal here is a bit of an anti- climax.A good thriller by a great writer and even when le Carre is just skimming the surface he's far better than his contempories.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun page turner 31 Dec 2010
Format:Kindle Edition
good to read a book set in the world of oligarchs and the people who helped them clean their money. some of the characters are a trifle overplayed but otherwise a great yarn.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the Place to Begin Reading LeCarre 25 May 2010
By Stephanie De Pue TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Before the fall of the infamous Berlin Wall, British author John LeCarre wrote magnificent spy stories. He has published many, has first-hand experience of the spy biz, and is best known for The Spy Who Came in from the Cold; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; and Smiley's People. Then the wall fell, and what was LeCarre to do? He takes up writing stories about international drug and arms dealers, and pharmaceutical cartels,and tricks them out with all the midnight meetings of the Home Office mandarins,and their ilk, that he previously wrote so well about, but in the case of international drug-arms smugglers, it's definitely the mountains laboring to bring forth a mouse.

"Single and Single", unfortunately, follows the same pattern, though there's also some patter about smuggling blood, perhaps based in research. Her Majesty's Customs Service is all over the story, safe houses, hard men, smart beautiful talented women from Glasgow, and all. It's hard to believe in such a proactive bureacracy in hidebound Britain, aside, of course, from the fabled MI6 of LeCarre's good old days. The obligatory love interest strains credulity: I can't recall ever seeing such an extraordinary female customs employee at any British airport; and we're given precious little indication of what such a woman might see in Oliver Single. The book does begin, at least, with a bang,set on a mountainside in Turkey, it's one of LeCarre's more powerful openings.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read if you don't want to go in straight lines
Excellent book brings in a whole raft of areas to question not least where the money to finance the Russian oil billionaires past and present comes from. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Del
3.0 out of 5 stars Gripping as usual but maybe lacking plausibility?
As a fan of later Le Carre I found this one a bit more of struggle. There's the usual series of intriguing and seemingly-unconnected events from Turkey to Cornwall to start off... Read more
Published 2 months ago by tpryan
4.0 out of 5 stars Usual leCarre
The depth of depravity at the beginning of the book rather sickened me = and the ending was somewhat unexpected as usual
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed it, but?
This book is well written, I found it a bit long and I lost the plot at times, but enjoyable, although not a classic like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy..
Published 9 months ago by Scottie Dog
4.0 out of 5 stars Singularily entertaining.
To the authors usual high standard of English and plot. Not his best but an absorbing read. Ending a trifle rushed
Published 11 months ago by D. C. Raithby
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a slow burner
This started well but lost its way in the middle. It was a bit of a chore to finish. I very nearly didn't bother.
Published 15 months ago by 1234
5.0 out of 5 stars Hero in the wings
The character of Oliver Single is yet another variation on John le Carre's steadfast hero who carries the sword of justice in the face of corporate criminal evil. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Dr. M. Lojko
5.0 out of 5 stars Book purchase second hand
The book was a hard back at a good in excellent condition which arrived promptly and was also an enjoyable read. Who could ask for more?
Published on 10 Feb 2012 by Noel G. Mcmullen
1.0 out of 5 stars Clapped out old nag
Having purchased this book about 10 years ago, I had never got round to reading it until a few days ago. I should not have bothered. Read more
Published on 29 Nov 2010 by Diogenes
5.0 out of 5 stars No more than I expected
Le Carre continues to produce brilliantly researched stories always relevant to our time. How he continues to do this is a tribute to the man. Read more
Published on 27 Nov 2009 by Des Skinner
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