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The Tailor of Panama [Paperback]

John Le Carré
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

21 Sep 2006
Harry Pendel is the charismatic proprietor of Pendel and Braithwaite Limitada of Panama, through whose doors everyone who is anyone in Central America passes; Andrew Osnard, mysterious and fleshly, is a spy. His secret mission is two-pronged: to keep a watchful eye on the political manoeuvrings leading up to the American handover of the Panama Canal on 31st December 1999; and to secure for himself the immense private fortune that has until now churlishly eluded him.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre (21 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034093770X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340937709
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 130,921 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


'Le Carré shows what an extraordinarily witty writer he can be, with a true feeling for the farcical' (Sunday Times)

'A romantic delirium for troubled times' (Observer )

'A masterful portrayal of human weakness' (Times Educational Supplement)

'A work of rare brilliance' (The Times)

Book Description

A wonderful, classic le Carré now reissued in a stunning new package.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad! 20 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This is not as good as the other le Carre books I have read. It isn't sure whether it is a black comedy, a spy story or a romance. The characters are really unbelievable if the story is not a comedic approach to the spy genre, but as a result it fails to be good at either.

The internal ramblings of the Tailor become wearisome as the story unfolds. His wife portrayed initially as perfect collapses morally once she grasped at least part of what has been going on and this deteriorates into the hackneyed plot model of a one nighter with the "spy" which adds nothing to the plot.

3 out of 5 is probably too high for this disappointing book a good writer!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If you saw the movie, Do not read 7 Oct 2007
The plot though rather good, could not keep my attention. Some of the characters are well written, but others, seem to drag the book down. The book does not flow and you will find yourself putting it down to do something. The story is a satire on the time when America has just handed over the Panama canal. Though I cannot believe that any agency would fall for the information that was passed on by Harry, the tailor and would be spy. Of course I read the whole book, becasue my rule is once you start ....finish it. Other wise I would have put it down. Just watch the movie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Homage to "Our Man in Havana" 2 May 2011
By Mr. Ross Maynard VINE VOICE
This is not a Le Carre spy thriller. If you come to this book expecting another of his great spy books then you may be disappointed. In fact "The Tailor of Panama" is a sort of homage to Graham Greene's "Our Man in Havana", and the books are probably best read as a pair so you can understand where Mr Le Carre got his idea from, and how the two great writers develop the idea differently. Graham Greene's book is a lightweight and gentle romantic comedy. Not his best book by a long way but enjoyable enough. John Le Carre develops the characters and the idea much more fully, with a much darker twist. To be honest the mixture of styles didn't really work for me. The books starts as a bit of a farce - very much along the same lines as "Our Man in Havana" - but subtly changes into tragedy as people begin to take the tailor's stories seriously. Unfortunately I found the book too long, with too many side shoots and diversions, and I found I was just reading it to finish it for much of the second half. The ending is moving but I found it quite confusing. Where is the tailor going? His wife has finally realised she loves him; and he realises he loves Marta; so why does he do what he does? While it is interesting for one great writer to take on another great writer's idea, I felt that Mr Le Carre played it out too much. The book could have been much better and much sharper at half the length and still delivered a moving ending.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible, funny, touching tragedy 17 Feb 2004
I read this book for the first time two months ago, and now I've read it again. My second reading was inspired by the fact that I was part way through the book the first time before I realized what an incredible book it was. So I wanted to read it again from the start with a proper sense of appreciation.
"The Tailor of Panama" is purportedly a spy thriller, but the spy story is actually just the framework on which John le Carré weaves his amazing study of human nature. And the human characteristics which are dominant are not ones that the human race should be proud of. We are presented with large amounts of greed, dishonesty, jealousy, cruelty, selfish lust, corruption, apathy, frailty and stupidity. On top of that we are presented with some of the less attractive conditions for human existence: poverty, suffering, guilt and sickness.
But the amazing thing is that John le Carré writes about these human characteristics and conditions with a great deal of humor and understanding. And he does provide a few glimpses of love, altruism and generosity.
So even though the story ends tragically it is for the most part a funny and touching story, and this makes the book very readable.
Another strength of the book is John le Carré's masterful command of the English language. He writes beautiful descriptions, and has a surprising and inventive way with words. I often found myself delighted with one sentence after another, each one saying something in a way I hadn't realized was possible.
The way in which the plot is slowly but surely expanded is also very satisfying. We start out with the daily lives of a few seemingly ordinary people.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Maestro's magic foiled by feeble humour 25 Feb 1999
By A Customer
It's usually the clowns wanting to play Hamlet: the wannabe Tom Sharpes wanting to write Harry Crews; the Tom Lehrers craving to croon Randy Newman. Here we have The Master - the author of the perfect "Perfect Spy" and the untouchable "Night Porter" - losing sight of what he does best and dishing up *the* most ghastly, leaden humour that not only flubs badly but drags down everything else that might have worked. I've absolutely no doubt that agent, editor and pals begged Cornwell on their knees to stick to the straight and narrow but fame and success are heady brews ... shame.
My tip: browse his latest one carefully, monitor the reviews for the slightest grisly reference to wit and light-heartedness - and keep fingers crossed that 'Panama' was a one-off dotage vanity jaunt
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars very poor.
Long-winded and extremely boring. Disappointing as it was reccommended by the author. I wonder why that should be. The End.
Published 7 months ago by Stephen Astley
2.0 out of 5 stars not among hus best
Completely lacks the economy of language his better books. Far more
in the genre of Our Man in Havahah but without the humour.
Published 8 months ago by Mr. Richard Connell
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book
Having read quite a few of John LeCarre's books this one lives up to expectations. It is engrossing from the off.
Published 9 months ago by JS
5.0 out of 5 stars Inimitable
John Le Carre is the mystery writer of writers. Any detail which seems of little importance, will be revealed to be of the utmost relevance as the story progresses.
Published 10 months ago by Xaizel
3.0 out of 5 stars Begins brilliantly, then unravels
This begins with a brilliant, virtuoso first 100 pages as Osnard meets the eponymous tailor to have a suit fitted and they banter back and forth. Read more
Published on 22 Mar 2012 by J & K
3.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected
With a storyline perhaps a little too close to Our Man in Havana, the story is not quite the sort of spy thriller one usually associates with le Carre. Read more
Published on 24 Nov 2010 by Gastronaut
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
A rather disappointing novel - not up to Le Carre's usual standard. Set in Panama, a garrulous and imaginative tailor to the great and good is recruited as a spy. Read more
Published on 6 July 2008 by BookWorm
3.0 out of 5 stars A tangled web...
Interesting spy thriller set in Panama after the collapse of the Noriega regime. Excellent sense of time and place and of the desperation of the characters making the best of a... Read more
Published on 15 Mar 2008 by Caroline Cormack
3.0 out of 5 stars What's all the fuss about?
I'm surprised by the rave reviews on this site. I bought the book expecting to like it, but I was disappointed. Read more
Published on 5 Dec 2004 by Flashman
5.0 out of 5 stars Le Carre Does "Our Man in Havana"
If you read and liked Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana, I predict you will like The Tailor of Panama. Read more
Published on 27 May 2004 by Donald Mitchell
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