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re-reading our John's TInker Tailor, Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley's People, more than 30 years after having first done so, my "if only" is the unanswerable plea for an "Alec Guinness" DVD from the BBC to match, and fit in between, the simply superb Tinker Tailor and Smiley's People. ( To step back even further and ask for Call from the Dead and Spy Who Came in from The Cold, I realise, would be pushing it) Well, no DVD to accompany the book but do read and enjoy - and read all the others too. JLC was at the peak of his powers and his writing shows it, when he wrote the "Smiley" Books. I don't know how many are the books he's written these past 30 years that I've picked up but never finished, let's just say "Plenty". But his early work remains, in my humble and simple opinion, unchallanged.
Many reviews have already covered the storyline and its place in the trilogy.
I read this as a one off and it works well. The characters are drawn with style, the plot is thick enough and twisted enough without being confusing, there is plenty of painstaking investigation, and some action. It's beautifully woven to keep you occupied and with switches between London and the Far East, enough variety of location.
Whether you are a fan of the author is irrelevant. This is just a good spy story that stands alone, or as part of a trilogy. Well worth a read if you like spy thrillers. Not worth a read if you get bored with detailed investigations.
This book fills in the gap between "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and "Smiley's People" and, together with these 2, form the "Karla" trilogy. Set in the far east and in London, the plot is based on "Karla's" plans to gain information from China how he funds his agent there. By the gentle application of pressure by Smiley and his entourage he causes the spy to "cut and run", only to be scooped up by the Americans at the last minute. The book's a "must" for any Le Carre fan and can be read as part of the "Karla" trilogy or on its own.
The first few chapters are a bit confusing but as the story progresses and things drop into place it becomes a gripping read. As with other books by this author you have to pay attention. I think I missed a couple of vital plot clues somewhere so I will put it aside for a while and then re-read with more care.