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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars George Smiley takes on the Soviet Union, Part One, 2 Feb. 2010
This review is from: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Paperback)
After publishing three books with George Smiley (GS) in a major or minor role, and one spy novel without him (A Small Town in Germany), John Le Carré (JLC) produced the monumental "Karla"- trilogy with GS as the undisputed hero.
This volume, first published in 1974, is Part One of the trilogy and in this reviewer's opinion JLC's very best creation among many other masterpieces. The principal theme in the book is the search for a "mole", an inside man turned traitor, within the higher echelons of the Circus, which runs some 600 agents worldwide. There have been inexplicable failures and disappointments. Control, the nameless head of the Circus is becoming suspicious of all of his staff, at a time when his health is declining rapidly. He becomes an increasingly marginalised person, poring over piles and piles of files, when a new source managed by a man keen to take Control's place, begins to enthral Whitehall with high quality reports...
Suddenly brought out of retirement, GS attends the debriefing of a rather dubious field agent and is requested to pursue the outcomes of the interview. In utter secrecy, GS starts his campaign to find the mole, aided by the trusted Peter Guillam and Retired Inspector (Special Branch) Mendel, who appeared first in JLC's debut Call for the Dead.
What makes this book exceptional is its plot, its dialogues, its atmosphere and more than ever, its characters. Chapter One about unhappy public schoolboy Bill "Jumbo" Roach meeting ex-betrayed spy, shot in the back, Jim "Rhino" Prideaux, ranks among the greatest first chapters in spy novels, on par with Trevanian's opening of The Loo Sanction. Totally brilliant.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Apr 2010 15:13:05 BDT
Currently reading this, about half way through. Can't comment on the book as a whole of course, but the first chapter seemed pretty weak to me. The book is picking up a little, but has been disappointing having heard great things about it. I will of course reserve judgment, but your comment about the opening chapter is worrying. I'm sure I will discover its greater meaning as I go on, but it really didn't grip me at all as an opening chapter.
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