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.
It’s been three months since I read this book and I’m no wiser today than I was then. I don’t know what to say about a book I loved. I don’t know how to convey… the it factor.
If you haven’t heard of John le Carré, you’ve been living under a rock, much like I was before May of this year. Well, let’s say before May of last year, because the film was coming out and the actors… well. I have thing.
You’ve read the blurb, seen the film, or the previous adaptation, and you have an idea of the plot. You know there are spies and there are moles. You know that a veteran spy is given the task to find a mole amongst friends and possibly clear himself as a suspect. And you know that the veteran spy is George Smiley.
What you don’t know is that this is a slow book. This is all about paperwork, talking to other people, collecting data, and piecing the clues together. There aren’t any explosions or high speed car chases. There are guns, bullets, and gun fights but they’re not glamorous.
This book is about mind games.
What you realise as soon as you pick up the book, whether it be a translation or not, is that le Carré’s writing style either speaks to you or it doesn’t. It’s simple, it’s precise. It focuses on the actions rather than descriptions, but there is description too.
Since finishing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, I’ve read several other le Carré’s novels and I’ve enjoyed them all. None as much as this one, but the writing, it speaks to me. Even through the translations, it speaks to me.
Suom: Eero Mänttäri
Series: George Smiley #5
Pages: 308 (paperback)
Published: 2012 (orig. 1974)