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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who Knows What?
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...
Published on 24 Mar 1999

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars could have been...
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...
Published on 26 Dec 2000


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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
This review is from: Single and Single (Hardcover)
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
This review is from: Single and Single (Paperback)
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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blood will tell, 7 Feb 2005
By 
Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Single and Single (Paperback)
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. Oliver maintains this role long enough to marry, bear a daughter and complete a divorce. He is "run" by a Brock who teaches him tradecraft, which in Oliver's case only requires some touching up, not attending the whole course. Oliver is loved or admired by more women than one man deserves - his landlady, a Russian gangster's wife and Aggie, one the Brock's agents. Somehow, given Aggie's role, this last seems the least plausible.
As with other post-Cold War Le Carre novels, this one is as much education as entertainment. You close the last page but you find closing down the memories and topics more difficult. International blood traffic is a real issue, exactly as pharmaceuticals were in The Constant Gardner. The issues are real, the people mostly convincing, the events hidden from the public eye, but revealing in their likelihood. Any Le Carre novel is worth a read, some welcoming a revisit. Single and Single is one worth picking up again. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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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
This review is from: Single & Single (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 (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Single and Single (Paperback)
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. And the central conflict, between Oliver Single, and his rogue Dad, Tiger Single (thus Single and Single), has some credibility and resonance:LeCarre has let it be known that his own father was a rogue, and a con man, and representations of that father appear quite often in his work. For anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of LeCarre's earlier work, this is not the place to begin.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just above average - at best., 13 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Single and Single (Paperback)
It has to be said that in the modern world, Le Carre's works do not have the resonance of his earlier work. Indeed, this tale just seems to be going through the motions too much, almost as if Le Carre himself misses the world he used to revel in. As a previous reviewer stated, the ending of the book strikes me almost as if the author just tied up the loose ends as quickly as possible and this comes at the end of a transnational chase scene, that is formulaic in the extreme, with the main protagonist making hazardous and dangerous journeys in the blinking of the eye. The story itself was well-intentioned but the finished product could and should have been so much more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex, beautifully crafted, 2 Mar 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Single and Single (Paperback)
Some years ago with the collapse of the Iron curtain we all wondered "whither the spy writer". I read "The naive and sentimental lover" with deepest misgivings. Fortunately Le Carre' has recovered to produce here a work comparable to his cold war stuff. Great characters, labyrinthine plot and a convincing whiff of menace are combined to produce an immensely readable and exciting book. Very stylish, just terrific.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best le Carre written, with scope for more, 16 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Single and Single (Paperback)
I really enjoyed Single and Single, and agree with most of the other positive reviews about it on this site. I want to add that I think it would be a sound idea if le Carre continued this sort of theme, the cold war had some excellent writing, but in my view the corrupt finance companies and mafia type subject is perfect for the thrillers of the future. More like this please John.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book - new genre, 23 Feb 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Single and Single (Hardcover)
Le Carre finds his feet again with a new type of spy book dealing with the dodgy world of offshore bank accounts tax avoidance and dodgy dealings in the emergent russian republics. The mafia lurk behind every tree and the atmosphere of chi chi merchant banking is finely drawn. Ending is not perhaps very satisfactory?? Decide for yourself.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent post-Cold War thriller from the Master!, 10 Mar 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Single and Single (Hardcover)
Single & Single is a very good novel indeed. Instead of the skullduggery of the Cold War, le Carre has turned his attention to the shady world of high finance to stunning effect. The central character, Oliver Single, is finely drawn and believable and we share his sympathy from the outset when he finds himself embroiled in events beyond his control.
To my mind le Carre seems to emprove in skill with each successive novel. For example, what 'Our Game' lacked in plot in more than made up for in style and skilled writing. And with 'Single & Single' le Carre has surpassed even his own high standards with an ingenious plot and strong characters.
If you are a fan then I suggest you but this book now, and if you've never read a John le Carre novel you could do no better than start here (or in that case why not try and of other superb spy thrillers!).
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