Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review : Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré. Penguin, 2011. (Originally published 1974)

[Source: Publisher / NetGalley]

A blown defection raises suspicions of a mole within British intelligence. Retired agent George Smiley is brought in to investigate and, in the course of uncovering the mole, finds out that his old boss, Control, was close on the mole’s trail before his death. The mole is one of the top men in the London office, and Smiley must keep his cards close for fear of tipping off the traitor.

Le Carré wrote eight novels featuring George Smiley. While Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is the fifth in the Smiley series, it is also the first in a three book sub-series featuring the “Quest for Karla,” a Russian super-spy. I enjoyed the process of Smiley’s investigation, but found the actually uncovering of the mole a bit anti-climactic. When considered as a set-up for the search for Karla, however, the novel improves in my eyes. There were characters that I wished had been further developed, but I’m betting le Carré is prepping us for their further adventures in subsequent installments. I would definitely read The Honourable Schoolboy, the second in the sub-series.

Obviously, I read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in preparation for seeing the movie. I’d never read this acclaimed spy novel and thought it was important to do so before entering the theater. I’m looking forward to seeing the new film despite hearing that it is hard to follow even if you’ve read the book. I’m grateful that I’ll be one step ahead of the non-readers in the audience!

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  1. I haven't read the book and had planned to see the movie, but now I'm wondering if I should. I hope you'll let us know what you think of it.

    1. I'll definitely let you know about the movie!

  2. I enjoyed this, although I did find it a little hard to follow at times - it definitely requires your full attention!