Review of Le Carre’s Single and Single

Le Carre

The end of the Soviet system and the Cold War which had given John Le Carre so much of his plot and so many of his protagonists in fact opened up many new vistas of the type that people of intrepid ambitions could find to enrich themselves, for better or worse. In the countries of the former Soviet Union, state resources are being sold off openly to the highest bidder as the demand for personal gratification and gain become the central features of life. However, the stakes are high and the punishment for any misstep calamitous.

My review of John Le Carre’s Single and Single has been published at Bookideas.


Review of John Le Carre’s A Delicate Truth

Le Carre Delicate.jpg

It seems almost mandatory among reviewers discussing new work by John Le Carre to begin by mentioning his early career and the prominence of the Cold War and then suggesting that the old boy has never really recovered from the collapse of the Soviet system. This is, I think, unfair. People do not blame Shakespeare for writing The Tempest after Hamlet but instead celebrate both.

Read the full review here.

Review of Le Carre’s Our Kind of Traitor

The end of the Soviet Union and the Cold War helped usher in a new age of neoliberal ‘reform’ which has led, among other things, to the looting of the Russian state and the creation of a new class of mega-rich mafia-connected asset strippers. Their principal concern has been to shore up their domestic power base and then export as many assets overseas as possible so they can live a life of luxurious expat indulgence. One such, in John Le Carre’s latest and characteristically intelligent and elegant novel, is Dima – a former zek (prison camp criminal) and vor (one who abides by the gangster code of honour).

Read the full review here.

Review of Le Carre’s The Secret Pilgrim

Any book that features George Smiley, the most unlikely seeming of all spies, adds to the joy of the world and this one, The Secret Pilgrim, is no exception. In this case, Smiley is an outsider (he so often is, I suppose) whose interaction with the next generation of secret agents at their training centre frames the action. That action concerns the life and times of a certain Ned, who has become a senior person in the service and seen the various types of betrayal that so often characterises the world of espionage.
Read the full review here.

Review of Le Carre’s The Tailor of Panama

When a gentleman’s tailor in Panama (which will immediately bring to mind Graham Greene’s creation, of course) is revealed to be a fantasist becoming mixed up with a spymaster all too willing to swallow any kind of nonsense, it soon becomes very evident that it is all going to end very badly for someone and perhaps for everyone. This being John Le Carre, the small infelicities and betrayals of individuals are inexorably caught up in processes that lead to nation-shaking events.

Read the full review here.

Review of John Le Carre’s The Constant Gardener

It is unusual for me to read a book after having seen the film version of it, since I read many more books than watch films. Knowing the shape of the events, therefore, I was interested to read the extent to which the film’s director followed the plot as outlined by Le Carre, who of course is a master of plot and character. In the interests of not giving too much away to anyone who has yet to come across either version, I will reveal only that the two are unified for quite a long period of the book and then close more or less in the same way, although Le Carre is notably realistic in his opinions about the way the world works or, in other words, somewhat more pessimistic than is generally considered suitable for the Silver Screen.

Read the full review here.

Review of John Le Carre’s Our Game

The ending of the Cold War was thought by some to signal the end of the spy novel: if there was no one left on whom to spy, the argument went, then there would be no need to write about the spying that would not take place. Here in 2009 it is known that the rise of the terrorist threat has been more than enough to justify substantial budgets for clandestine operations.

Read the full review here.