Reading this book fills you with melancholy about the good old days of the Cold War. Le Carre writes convincly about a stumbling British civil (albeit secret) service, including the ubiquitous pompous character(s). The plot, the characters the setting, the workings of the service are all very convincing. It is great to see a desperate service fall into a trap & come out of it again. More than a spy novel, it is a joy to read, because of its wording and its weary thoughts of some of its main characters. Also, no shoot-outs, no rockets, no submarines or deadly secret weapons: just a giant puzzle being slowly unraffled. Absolute masterpiece, utterly convincing through the human, all too human characters, their ambitions, their weaknesses.