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20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and le Carre finally writes a passable post-Cold War. Of course the premise is ludicrous, yuppies picked to handle Russian kleptocrat's defection and the characterisation as usual very thin: the defectee is essentially a Bond villain: fast, bald and speaking bad formal English (Blofeld or Hugo Drax anyone?); would any believe that an Oxford don would give up his fellowship to teach in a secondary school and the young barrister seems to be able to abandoned her important brief at will. The main female character is rather better drawn than usual but Le carre has to include his standard mad wife and a slut, this time a pregnant 16 year-old whose only purpose seems to be to ensure that Gail screws up the escape plan to allow another predictable downbeat ending. Only if Smiley is involved are plots allowed to succeed in le Carre's world.
One positive note is that the author has finally got over his need to use inappropriate or incorrect terminology, hence 'four track' has become '4x4' and 'buckskin', 'suede'.
Second-rate Frederick Forsyth but diverting enough to pass a plane journey.
sadly, just the usual Le Carre.... He really is becoming yet another grumpy old man. All the usual tropes and themes ( the world seen through a (spy's) glass darkly, love and hate of the old boy network / establishment etc. In fact it's hard to tell if Le Carre is celebrating the nameless heroes of our security services or damning them for being faceless bureaucrats with Eton & the Guards rammed right up their fundaments.... Dated, really. Deighton did it better and funnier & had the sense to quit.
As a fan of Le Carres in the past, I was a little disappointed with this story, which I found disjointed, and a little difficult to follow. This could be a change in my reading pattern (this was my second e-book), but I felt I needed to start again to follow the intermittent plot. Like his previous offering "A Delicate Truth" the ending was abrupt and,in my opinion, unsatisfactory. Submitted with respect to a great author, who over my long life has given me many hours of pleasure, both in books and films.
As one might expect from the Master, the book is good, with well-drawn characters and a plot that is somewhat different and moves along quite nicely. However, I felt that a little more action and a lot more background would have done the book no harm. I was very disappointed with the ending. I will not spoil it for others by giving it away, but in my opinion, as a writer myself, it was weak. It struck me that the author was tired of the book and just decided to finish it there and then. Therefore only 3 stars.
Enjoyed the read and the interesting mix of characters. The book builds and keeps the reader interested but then the end is a big let down. When I realised how near the end I was, I couldn't believe it could be brought to a satisfying conclusion within such a short time and I was right. The end is almost as if the author has just got fed up with the characters and wants rid of them. Most unusual.
While I am a fan of Le Carre, this was not my favourite read. I could not get enthusiastic about the plot and found myself wandering which is unusual for me but I am sure someone will make head or tail of it.
It's ok but no more. The world of Smiley is, alas, also no more and the author struggles to create a contemporary equivalent in the absence of the kind of ambience which characterised the Karla novels. In particular, the ending disappoints - as though he just ran out of ideas by that point.
This book is OK - but is certainly not "vintage" LeCarre. I suppose that the guy who wrote Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is setting himself a problem for the future - 'cos he's never going to be able to produce anything as good as that again. This book is worth reading - it's quite a good story - but unfortunately, LeCarre's best years (and books) have been and gone.
Of course the closer you get to the back of the book, the more you realize that the ending was going to be quick, but it's like the author just gave up at the end. Unlike "Absolute Friends" or "A Most Wanted Man" where the plot of the book leads up to the ending, even though the ending a surprise. Some of the plot required too much suspension of disbelief, too (Gail just wanders off to pick up Natasha in the middle of an operation).