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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Story
This is the second of Le Carre's Smiley trilogy. Following the Secret Services uncovering of a Russian mole Smiley is put in charge to rebuild the battered and demoralised service.

We follow the exploits of Gerald Westerbury as he sets out to uncover the destination of $500,000 of funds transferred to a trust account in Hong Kong by the Russians. Jerry has to...
Published on 30 Nov. 2006 by J. E. Parry

versus
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There's a really good book hiding within the padding
I'm pretty new to Le Carre. I read 'The Spy Who Came in from The Cold' and was blown away. It's dark, it's realistic - it's the dirty, unglamorous world of what you'd imagine spying must really be like.

I read 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' and though it was a bit slow at times, I loved it. Great story - makes you really work at it but it's really rewarding...
Published on 3 Jan. 2012 by Steven Forster


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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Story, 30 Nov. 2006
By 
J. E. Parry "Jeff Parry" (Pontypool, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This is the second of Le Carre's Smiley trilogy. Following the Secret Services uncovering of a Russian mole Smiley is put in charge to rebuild the battered and demoralised service.

We follow the exploits of Gerald Westerbury as he sets out to uncover the destination of $500,000 of funds transferred to a trust account in Hong Kong by the Russians. Jerry has to discover what this money is for.

There is cross and double cross by the main protaginists as there are several stories running in tandem. As Smiley plots he is under pressure from the Americans and the machinations of his own political masters. Does anyone know what is happening or who is planning what?

What is Drake Ho, the Chinese industrialist, up to? Who is Liese Worth? Did Ricardo, a drug running CIA pilot, die in Laos? What is the role of drake's dead brother in everything?

In typical Carre fashion the story is told in the third person, as though reminising after the fact. We are led through the events after they happened. We know that something major is waiting but not what exactly.

The hero of the piece is Westerbury. He is the old school spy, sent in as a journalist and left to run with little support. We see the efforts of a demoralised agency trying to rebuild and inject a new pride.

Another great story from the master of Cold War spying.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for a Cold, Grey Day, 15 Feb. 2010
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This review is from: The Honourable Schoolboy (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
I am working my way through the new BBC John LeCarre series and loving every minute of them. The production is crisp and clear, the acting exemplary and the adaptations convey all the drama and tension you want from a cold war thriller.

At three hours long this is perfect for a long car journey or, as I did, a long afternoon sitting in the chair as the cold grey skies rolled past outside the window. As they say, radio has the best pictures and these are better than most movies.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb., 26 July 2011
By 
Bill Kelly "willireid" (Liverpool, UK) - See all my reviews
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I have read this novel several times over the years and it never pales. It is ahrd to ad anything to most of the reviews here, but i do agree with J Byrne that the book carries echoes of Conrad, particulalry "Heart of Darkness"-certainly Jerry's journey to see Ricardo through splendidly described war torn scenes of Laos and Cambodia reminds one of Marlow's quest for Kurtz.

The darkness side is also perhaps more evident here than in the earlier Smiley novels, particulalry in the character of Fawn the psychotic bodyguard for George, and the callous reflections on the deaths of "dispensable" characters. It is left to Westerby, rather than George to carry the flag for some approach at morality in what the Circus does.

Highly recommended if you like thoughtful espionage, history or just good, literate novels.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely magnificent., 24 April 2000
This book, the second in the so-called "Smiley versus Karla" trilogy, is bar none, Le Carre's best novel. It is about a complicated ploy by George Smiley, now re-instated in the circus and it's new head, to gain revenge on Karla and Moscow Centre over it's decades long humiliation by the hands of a British spy. The novel is primarily based in the far east, mainly in Hong Kong and reaching out to war-torn Cambodia. The man on the scene, set to land the coup, is Jerry Westerby, a sometime news Reporter, a some time spy for the circus. Unfortunately for him, the cards are stacked against him from the outset. I would read Tinker Tailor before reading this novel, so as to have much of the background knowledge needed. But in my mind this is LeCarre's finest work. Pity the excellent Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Smiley's People didn't have this gem filmed along with them as well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spies, Lies & Mysteries, 30 July 2010
By 
G. T. Swain - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Honourable Schoolboy (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
Any reader (or listener) of stories about espionage and diplomacy might imagine a world populated by the characters of Ian Flemming and similar writers. John Le Carre doesn't write thrillers.He does however create a world where there is more often rivalry and conflict between personnel, government departments and international allies or as they are described in this audio book, "The Cousins".

To understand the plot the reader needs to be aware of Le Carre's earlier works - in particular, 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy'. This tale is populated with characters from the earlier work in particular George Smiley.

All Le Carre's novels are solidly constructed, even if the direction or theme seems to meander from time to time. To be honest I would have prefered a Cover-To-Cover Narration, but even in a BBC dramatisation it is well worth a listen.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a most likable hero, 26 Dec. 2000
By A Customer
This remains my favorite le Carre novel.It has everything you expect from him, being beautifully written,well paced and with a great feeling for the locations and people.But with this book le Carre has created a most likable hero in Jerry Westerby.Tough,romantic but essentially niave he is a perfect foil to the the fantastically corrupt asia of the last days of the Vietnam war. .The novel builds beautifully having introduced and combined plots,sub plots and a great cast of weird and wonderful bit players rouges, cynics and soldiers as Jerry faithfully follows the orders of his mentor George and plans to betray him.Great stuff.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Cast and Well Produced, 25 Mar. 2010
By 
Mr. Gtj Charmley "gerardtjcharmley" (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Honourable Schoolboy (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
This is a BBC dramatisation of the second book in the trilogy begun with Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. It is useful to at least know what happened in that book before listening to this. Following the events of that book, George Smiley, the technocratic spymaster has become head of the Circus, Le Carre's fictional espionage organisation. He must deal with a legacy of betrayal, and a part of that is finding out where Karla, the enemy spy chief, is vulnerable. The discovery of a case which the traitor had placed in cold storage leads Smiley to send a long inactive agent, former journalist the Honourable Jerry Westerby, son of a fallen Press Baron, to travel to Hong Kong in order to trace the plot.

Westerby, played as a bored colonial type by Hugh Bonneville, is a romantic as well as a spy, his world-weariness hiding a search for the one girl. As he seeks to find out exactly what suspected Soviet agent Drake Ko (David Yip) is up to, he meets Liese Worth (Daisy Haggard), a similarly jaded personality. Fascinated by her, he comes to believe that she is the one. The question facing Smiley is whether Westerby can be trusted to deliver the goods, or whether he will throw over the service for true love.

Action is split between the Far East, mostly Hong Kong, which is portrayed as a sleazy world of intriugue and broken dreams, and the London offices of the Circus, where Smiley matches wits with the unseen Karla in a well-acted tale of suspense. Worth getting, but probably only if you are familiar with the events of 'Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy'.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There's a really good book hiding within the padding, 3 Jan. 2012
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I'm pretty new to Le Carre. I read 'The Spy Who Came in from The Cold' and was blown away. It's dark, it's realistic - it's the dirty, unglamorous world of what you'd imagine spying must really be like.

I read 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' and though it was a bit slow at times, I loved it. Great story - makes you really work at it but it's really rewarding too.

When I realised 'Tinker Tailor' was part of a trilogy, I thought I must read the rest.

'The Honorable Schoolboy' is the second in the trilogy and you must read 'Tinker Tailor' first. It's a good story, a good development of 'Tinker Tailor' showing how Smiley tries to rebuild a shattered service with little support or thanks from the political masters.

However.... it's 686 pages long. You're 80 pages in before the intrigue first starts to get opened up. You're 150 pages in before there's anything very exciting. It's split into two halves, the second of which is paced much better but he really drags his heals. I would love to edit this book - at 450 pages, it could be a very worthy sequel to 'Tinker Tailor'. As it stands, it takes an effort of will - or good skimming skills - to stay with it.

I bought the final one - 'Smiley's People' - and note it's only 450 pages long. Perhaps he had more confidence in himself by this stage to just get down to the meat and potatoes and cut the waffle. Fingers crossed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High Quality Adaptation, 4 Mar. 2010
By 
Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Honourable Schoolboy (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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This is one of a continuing sequence of Le Carre's Smiley novels set in the world of post World War II espionage as the cold war rages. The books have received a new lease of life through these exquisite Radio Four dramatisations, although they are also excellent in their own right. My husband and I have been listening from the beginning and it is fantastic that the audio cds come out so soon after the radio broadcast so we can listen again and again. Simon Russell Beale is superb as Smiley and his wonderful acting skills come across as well on radio as they do on stage and screen. This volume has an excellent supporting cast including the fantastic Hugh Bonneville, and they are a delight to listen to. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Karla story continues..., 25 Jun. 2010
By 
emma who reads a lot (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Honourable Schoolboy (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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This is a nice present for those who love Le Carré's stunning trilogy about the hunt to identify "Karla", the Russian mastermind who has possessed George Smiley's mind (and lighter) for many years. But it's also great for people just coming to the Smiley books. It would be difficult to disagree with Simon Russell Beale cast as Smiley, and the whole thing has great atmosphere. My only objection, which I have made elsewhere as well, as that le Carré's absolutely masterful construction of plot has been slightly fiddled with in order to adapt for radio. These books are already so filmic, so concise, why does this need to happen? Anyway, a big sigh to that, and a hurray to being able to enjoy the book all over again.
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The Honourable Schoolboy (BBC Audio)
The Honourable Schoolboy (BBC Audio) by John Le Carre (Audio CD - 11 Feb. 2010)
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