Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, SpyTinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré
Series: George Smiley #5
Publisher: Random House
Released: June 1, 1974
Pages: 379
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A modern classic in which John le Carré expertly creates a total vision of a secret world, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy begins George Smiley's chess match of wills and wits with Karla, his Soviet counterpart.

It is now beyond a doubt that a mole, implanted decades ago by Moscow Centre, has burrowed his way into the highest echelons of British Intelligence. His treachery has already blown some of its most vital operations and its best networks. It is clear that the double agent is one of its own kind. But which one? George Smiley is assigned to identify him. And once identified, the traitor must be destroyed.

This was an odd one for me. I went into Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with very high expectations, and unfortunately they weren’t met. It’s hard to pinpoint what I think was wrong with it. The book is hard to follow at times, yes, but no more so than a bunch of other books. It tells a complicated story in a very straight-forward way, without dropping many hints as to what parts are especially important, but again, that is a style of story-telling that can work very well. Relative to other books I found this one to be “hard work”, but I generally don’t mind that at all if they payoff was a great story, which this undoubtedly is. For me it just wasn’t a great read.

I think the problem is that the book didn’t make me feel anything, and it didn’t even seem to try. Significant moments which could have been the source of suspense, emotion, or both were simply recounted as if they were the minutes of a committee-meeting. This is obviously an intentional style, but for me it didn’t really work. A thing I did like was the way the characters, and their relation to each other, was built up mainly through implications and dialogue rather being explicitly spelled out. It gave a satisfying feeling of a painting gradually appearing. And, again, the story is interesting. Interesting enough to have the potential to be really exciting and thrilling. To me it just wasn’t.

However, this is probably one of those books I will find myself thinking about for a while, and that’s something.

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