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'The Tailor of Panama' is up there with the two genuine Karla saga books (not the abysmal 'Honourable Schoolboy') and 'The Spy Who Came In From the Cold'. After a string of second-rate books that recycle the same tired old charcter types, in this le Carre grows up as a writer and invents interesting and original figures in the tailor and the fraudster agent. For almost the first time the female characters are not his usual sluts but have some depth and interest. Highly recommended.
One has to remember that this was written in the 1990s – soon after the end of the Cold War. The story is very engaging, and the sense of place in both Panama and the virtual world of the UK Secret Service is very real and evocative. It is also a timely reminder that one of the main motivations of governments is the avoidance of embarrassment. [As I was reading this, I felt strong echoes of Our Man in Havana, and read that again immediately afterwards: it is beautifully written, full of human insights, and straightforward farce/tragedy has ever with Graham Green, who was mentioned in the Acknowledgements. Both books well worth reading.]
Brilliant characterisation as usual, in fact a cast of many memorable characters that perhaps left a few too many loose ends to tie up in the concluding chapters. The tailor of Panama (Pendel) is beautifully realised as are his dialogues ( imagined and remembered) with uncle Benny. Glimpses of a Rupert Murdoch type character and the unhealthy symbiosis between the Press and politicians are uncannily prescient of what has occurred during the first decades of the 21st century. The plot is tightly woven and fast moving, as one has come to expect, but suffers from a world order view that now looks dated and unlikely, particularly given the UK’s current pitiable ranking on the world stage.
A beautifully crafted morality tale of the terrible power of corruption and lies. The vividly described failure of the majority to do the right thing destroys the hope of the virtuous minority. We'll worth reading!
As usual with John le Carre very well written. I would have preferred it to be a little pacier as it does start to drift in places. The characters are well established - each in their own world. The anticipated collision does however take a while to get to. I would recommend reading it in one go if you can to get the best out of it.
I have read and enjoyed many of le carre's books so was looking forward to this. I gave up half way through which is unusual for me. None of the main characters are likeable so it doesn't encourage you to keep going and see their fate. By the half way point nothing of real interest has taken place. Not recommended.
Tedious, it is a short story which is spun out to hundreds of pages, some interesting character developments and some (inside?) info from our service. In spite of the name on the cover, it is not what I expected from the author of Smilies People