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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré


With a new film version out in cinemas now, I was prompted to dig out this old classic and give it a read - for the first time I am ashamed to say. And I was gripped from start to finish. John le Carré's classic novels deftly navigate readers through the intricate shadow worlds of international espionage with unsurpassed skill and knowledge, earning him and his hero, British Secret Service Agent George Smiley - unprecedented worldwide acclaim.

It has been called the best espionage novel ever written. Le Carre, (pen name for David John Moore Cornwell), acquired this knowledge firsthand during his years as an operations agent for the British M15. Kim Philby, the infamous mole, actually gave Le Carre's name to the Soviets long before he defected. The author's professional experience and his tremendous talent as a master storyteller and superb writer make this book one of the best novels in its genre.

The story of a botched espionage operation in Czechoslovakia causes "Control," (Head of British Intelligence), and his associates to be discredited. "Control," already ill and aging quickly, dies soon after this debacle. George Smiley, his able lieutenant, is retired in disgrace. The story is one of suspicion, espionage and back stabbing and has a somewhat melancholic sense of inevitability the whole way through. Smiley's beautiful but unfaithful wife and his suspicion of a betrayal by one of the service's most admired agents permiates the book till the end. It might not be a simple, easy to read book, but it is well worth the effort.

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