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Our Kind Of Traitor probably sells itself on John Le Carre’s reputation rather than on any synopsis of the novel itself. But this is a long, long way from Smiley’s People.
In very broad terms, this is a story of an English academic and his lawyer wife, on holiday in the Caribbean, meeting a Russian oligarch who wants to defect to the UK. The oligarch asks the academic to intercede between himself and the British authorities.
The trouble is, the plot is not plausible and the characters are not credible. There is a lot of complex stuff about money laundering and international finance, but is this seriously what we have our finest intelligence agents working on? Would they really give asylum to a dodgy banker who had fallen out with his dodgy banker friends? Why would they need to stage some elaborate kidnapping from a remote Swiss mountain when it would have been far easier for the dodgy oligarch to have just bought a plane ticket to London. And would they really bring a randomer academic into their fold whilst they did all this?
The characters are lifted from comic books. Boorish businessmen; brain-dead bodyguards; public school dandy spies, stupid policemen, idealistic academics. There’s no depth to any of them.
Basically, nothing rings true. This is a real shame when the verisimilitude of the daily grind of office work was what lifted Le Carre’s earlier works above other espionage thrillers.
The ending is abrupt. It is hard to disguise an abrupt ending when the reader will be able to see the lack of further pages (or the Kindle counter approaching 100%). Thus, the shock is somewhat lost – the reader knows something cataclysmic must be coming and the only doubt is what form it might take. I know others have been disappointed by the ending and felt that it left loose ends; I actually thought it worked well and was, perhaps, the only memorable or intriguing thing in a novel that was otherwise slow and confusing.
This feels like a tired novel by a tired writer; a writer whose repertoire has been consigned to history, writing about an organisation that seems to be searching for a purpose. It seldom holds the attention and when the plot gets convoluted, there is a temptation to just press ahead without trying to piece together what is actually going on.
I’m sorry to say that this author was a disappointment to me. I saw his passionate interview about money laundering schemes in a world of finance on internet and decided to check him out. The basic concept is not bad, but it’s development is too shallow and doesn’t create any solid picture of dark world of finance in my opinion with the ending which for me is was huge disappointment. What I mean by that is the situation when you expect that at this point the story will really kick of, but it ends abruptly instead. Also the author uses a lot of depictions and portraits of people which slows the action very heavily, but most of all lacks cinematic view of action when precise detail is essential to create the suspense. As I said I’m sorry to write that, but since Amazon had asked me twice here I am.
This book isn't in the same league as previous offerings by this author. Where are the marvellous detailed descriptions of the characters, the beautifully complex plots and people in whom you can believe? This book just seems to idle along and certainly doesn't make you rush to pick it up to see how the story is developing. Also seems to fall into that horrible trend of so many books where the author appears to have satisfied his/her quota of words for the publisher or can't think of a good ending and winds up the story in around two paragraphs. Absolutely hopeless ! Massively disappointing effort from such a talented writer.
If you are new to le Carre . . . don't start with this book. It's dreadful. This novel has all the poor aspects of this writer's work with little of the wit or excitement. For one of our finest novelists to have turned out such dross disappoints me. Finishing it - I felt I had to - was a relief, and the ending itself was well up to the standard of all that preceded it!
Irritating whimsy, not sure who amused the author, his characters or his readers. The picture of intelligence agencies squabbling among themselves may be realistic but is boring reading. Can do better.
John le Carre has written a number of excellent books. This for me was not one of them. Having read one third of the story I found his frivolous repetitive style of writing so tiresome that I decided to find another 'read.'
I never thought I'd say this about a Le Carre novel, but the film was a lot better. This novel had too many unclear flashback moments and seemed to be constructed poorly. Had this been written by a new writer, I’m afraid to say it would have been rejected.