John le Carre: The Pinnacle of Spycraft

28 Jan

With the release of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy I’ve recently gotten back into reading John le Carre’s books. I had already loved and greatly enjoyed Tinker Tailor and its two sequels The Honorable Schoolboy and Smiley’s People. To be honest I definitely did feel the movie did the book justice it was just to intricate to be summed up in 2 hours, but hats off to them for trying.Since the movie I’ve read two more of his books.

The first A Perfect Spy. This book delves into why Magnus Pym went into the intelligence business and also why he disappeared from that world. Unlike most spy stories this isn’t a true thriller, it is much more a psychological exploration of the character of Pym and is told through a few different voices and we get to see how Pym views himself, how his wife saw him and even through his boss Jack Brotherhood’s perspective. All of this interpretations are slightly and subtly different. With this novel you are left with no doubts as to why le Carre is trumpeted as bringing spy novels into the ranks of literature instead of just fiction.
The book also apparently carries a semi-autobiographical themes as le Carre had a similar upbringing and was brought into the service in similar way.

A Perfect Spy
by John le Carre

The other book by him I just read was The Tailor of Panama. These two books were about as different as could be. The Tailor of Panama was about an ex-con turned tailor getting black mailed to spy on his clients. The tone is much lighter and felt comedic. The book was a ton of fun and is certainly perfect for a day at the beach or for a flight.

The Tailor of Panama
by John le Carre
ISBN: 978-0345420435


Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Fiction


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5 responses to “John le Carre: The Pinnacle of Spycraft

  1. Casey Wyatt

    January 28, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Let's CUT the Crap!

    January 28, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    I love it when an author challengers him / herself to write differently in each body of work. I appreciate changes from funny, to serious, to half and half, whatever.

    I’ve read some of his books Le Carre’s books and there’s one that I did not particularly like: The Mission Song. It’s been quite some time since I read it, can’t say why I didn’t like it, only that I recall I didn’t. On the whole, though, his books don’t follow a particular pattern which I enjoy.

    • bibliopirate

      January 28, 2012 at 10:02 pm

      I really like that he isn’t a cookie cutter author, the draw back is every now and there he has his misses. I wasn’t over the moon with his book Our Kind of Traitor, I was listening to it on audiobook and he spent far to long telling us about various tennis matches and it just couldn’t my interest.

  3. Pym

    January 29, 2012 at 4:30 am

    I’ve never read a book by le Carre, but after seeing the movie, Tinker, Tailor, I’m ready to buy the book.

    Jean (aka Pym)

    • bibliopirate

      January 29, 2012 at 5:51 am

      You might also be interesting in looking for the bbc mini series that came out in the 70s for Tinker Tailor Solider Spy. It starred Alec Guiness and Ian Richardson and was fantastic.


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