Liked It1 of 1 members found this review helpful
“A pulse-pounding romp in a world of tunnel-vision and blind alleys. Much like the world of intrigue and counter-intelligence that Alec survives in, each character's motive is suspect and information is only spoon-fed to the reader slowly, never all at once. The result is a paranoiac, whiplash...”see full review » see other reviews »
“The first time I became interested in John le Carré's work was when Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with Benedict Cumberbatch was advertised prior to its release. I'm a huge fan of Cumberbatch (or The Batch, as he is affectionately known) whose Sherlock won me over, and curious about the movie I suggested the book for my book club's reading list. Majority asked for a more famous novel by le Carré so here we are.
It is easy to understand why this book has stood the test of time: it is a fast-paced, intelligent, emotionally-engaging thriller with characters who are easy to care about and even the shift of perspective from what I would describe as "inner circle third person" to "outsider third person", which was quite obvious, didn't change that. I think le Carre employed this device to hide certain things from the reader without making Leamas an unreliable narrator. He was counting on the reader to figure out what was really happening as the novel progressed and with the little hints along the way it wasn't that hard. The book could've become boring at that point considering that the action isn't in chases or gun-fights but in a steady execution of the plan, but le Carre had an ace up his sleeve. With the perspective back to "inner circle third person" the reader got to realize along with Leamas that he wasn't as inner circle as he thought he was. A three-level conspiracy, my friends, how delicious is that?! I won't say more for the sake of not spoiling the ending, but you see how this book is never exactly what it seems at first, with characters pursuing secret agendas to the very end.
Written in the middle of the Cold War and being a spy thriller it is no surprise that this book pits characters who are both physically and figuratively on different sides of the Berlin wall against each other. Le Carre talks ideology here and doesn't leave any room for doubt as to which side he is on. I don't know how historically accurate the details are and the year on the calendar didn't allow for ambiguity if one wanted to be published and widely read, but the fact remains. While there aren't any gray areas as far as le Carre's and Leamas' allegiances go there are plenty of them in the rest of the novel. I suppose it is like that in the business of spying where the ends justify whatever means necessary. As Leamas said, the only criteria of success is results, and ethics are sacrificed at every turn.
The most memorable and thought-provoking character for me was Liz, particularly because little about her is straightforward. She is young, naive and idealistic but she is locked in a gray area even more so than the spies who've made it their home. She belongs to the Communist Party yet she dislikes its everyday defining characteristics, she sees a socialist state first-hand yet she doesn't question her beliefs, she rejects the capitalist ideals yet she is devoted to a man who is as ideologically far from her as possible. She gives the depth and the heart to this novel, particularly by showing Leamas the man underneath the mask of the spy and making the reader care for those who at the end of the day are collateral in the game of politics.
This book was published almost 40 years ago and is set even earlier but it doesn't read as dated. In fact, if I didn't know when it was written I would've taken it for a historical spy thriller. Now I'm even more curious about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy because I am confident that le Carre knows what he is doing so expect to see me talking about it here at some point in the future.”
“Possibly spy fiction at it's finest. Set during the cold war, with backdrops including Germany and England this book gives the reader an insight into the world of REAL spys, the troubles they face and the type of life outlook the may hold. I recommend this to everyone!”Peter Sallis-Smith wrote this review Saturday, May 4, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I don't often put my fiction reading choices on here, but having come very late to this book I just have to recommend it to those of you who haven't had the chance to enjoy it. ”Alexander Giles wrote this review Saturday, May 4, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This book is a real treat! Aah, what a pleasure to read this one! Written so simply, with nary a wasted sentence, the book is about wheels within wheels, of love and betrayal, and of an ordinary man and a young woman who seem to have found love of a sort. The man is sick of being out in the cold, as Dylan would have put it, he wants "shelter from the storm", and of the price that he is prepared to pay, which maybe, perhaps, would fulfill his dream. People are used as pawns, as means to justify highly dubious ends in the Cold War by the powers that be, and does the individual's hopes and desires mean anything at all, in this context? And Le Carre, asks the all important question, what is it that people believe in, that enables them to commit the most gruesome crimes on other people, and snuff out lives so callously?? The book is meticulously detailed in its plotting, and speeds up to a great climax. Truly wonderful, exhilarating, heartbreaking, and bleak. ”Anand wrote this review Thursday, May 2, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“It was good, but I was expecting more based on some of the quotes I've seen. I'd like to try another book by LeCarre. There were some slow parts for a spy novel, but the end had some great twists.”Mick L wrote this review Friday, March 15, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Is this the greatest spy story ever written? It certainly gets my vote.”David Ferguson wrote this review Friday, February 22, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Read this spy classic during the holidays recently and realised again why this is rated among the top spy books of the century (by Times). Whilst getting back into the cold war era mindset to understand the hostilities is a bit difficult for us now, the taut plot, the double and triple agents and the solid characterisations make this book work its magic still. ”Vands wrote this review Saturday, February 2, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Pretty short and pretty good. Looking at the seedy underbelly of cold war intelligence operations.”game_itamar wrote this review Friday, January 25, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A redirection from Le Carre, with the lead character, Alex Leomas, showing none of the remorse or guilt as his colleague George Smiley had at the end of Le Carre previous and debut novel "Call For The Dead". Leomas is a stone cold killer in pursuit of East Germany's director of operations. The novel shows the mismatch between what democratic governments were saying about the moral conduct of affairs of state and the actuality. Having read many of his later novels, I found this hole in the back catalogue of rather fulfilling but not as cleverly crafted.”Peter Langston wrote this review Thursday, January 24, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No