2007: 191. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

“The truth is, if  old Major Dover hadn’t dropped dead at Taunton races Jim never would have come to Thursgood’s at all.”

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, John Le Carre

This is my dad’s very favorite book, and after reading it, I can understand why.*  Reading other Le Carre did not prepare me for how great this book is.  Call For the Dead and even The Constant Gardener were pretty well written spy thrillers.  This is something else.  This is a novel - a damn well written novel - that seriously shows us what it is like to be a spy. I mean, who knows, maybe really it is like James Bond and you get all sorts of gorgeous women and crazy gadgets, but I’ve read Tinker, Tailor, so now I firmly believe that it’s like this.  That it’s surveillance, and careful research, and being oh-so-quiet and careful as you (that’s George Smiley, our unglamorous but talented spy) ferret out the turncoat in your top ranks.  The plot is subtle and complicated, and I am still not exactly sure that I understand how they figured out which one was the spy, and exactly how they busted him, but that just means that I get to read it again and try to piece it together.  Plus, there are two more books in the Quest for Karla series, so I can stay with Smiley, and live a little longer in the detailed, realistic, atmospheric world of real spies.  So much better (and more satisfying) than joining the  CIA...

*Ok, before reading it I understood why - crazily well-written and atmospheric book about the Cold War, my dad’s favorite subject/subject of his masters thesis (which he just got, at 52 for the fun of it? How cool is that??), but now I personally appreciate it.


Recommended for:  People who want to know what it’s really like to be a spy; people who enjoy well written detailed novels; my dad.


Date/Place Completed: 12/21/07; D.C.

Categories: Fiction

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017