Top positive review
73 people found this helpful
action aplenty with something for the brain and heart too
on 7 June 2001
For readers new to le Carre(and there can't be many)this is the third of what has become known as the "karla series".The previous two being "tinker,tailor,soldier, spy" and the herioc and romantic "honorable schoolboy"(highly reccomended too).The third sees much of the same cast collected again.You meet clever and dodgy Toby Esterhazy,the valient and niave Peter Guillam,a forgoten Russian General, an intelligence pimp,a collection of 2 dimensional whitehall twits as a foil,and as always a most humane cast of extras.The most humane being the conscience wracked George Smiley himself.As for villians you have the afformentioned whitehall boys, a convincing KGB thug and a villian of Moriaty proportion in Karla;Smileys foe for many years.The plot?Smiley is brought back once again from retirement to fight against his old enemy.A fight both personal and patriotic.It is the height of the cold war,his brief is strictly unofficial and he calls in favours and friends as his allies(thus the title).The locations?Paris,the bleakest Germany you have ever met,a sumptious Switzerland and of course grey,beaurocratic London.The drama?Betrayal.Le Carre's constant theme.Of wives,country,friendships and finally of the morality that has sustained Smiley through the long years of the cold war. Its a great read.Le Carre at his peak(though the semi autobiographical "a perfect spy" deserves a mention).If you haven't read the two others you can read this one alone. Wonder aloud afterwards how Deighton and co. can hold their head up in public.Le Carre is another world of thriller writers.I recomend you read all three but this one is one of the best you will ever read.