Monday, July 9, 2012
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre
Author: John le Carre
Read by: Michael Jayston
Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks
Length: Approximately 13 hours (10 CDs)
Source: Review Copy from Penguin Audiobooks. Thank-you!
George Smiley is the opposite of James Bond. A “fat old man” as he describes himself, he has been let go from “the Circus,” the highest echelon of the British Secret Intelligence Service. His wife Ann has left him for the latest in her string of lovers. Smiley is not feeling so great about himself until one day; he is brought back to investigate a possible mole at the Circus.
Smiley’s boss “Control” has died after being forced out as head of the Circus after a mission to find a mole in the Circus went horribly awry. Ricki Tarr has returned from a mission to Hong Kong with news that a mole does exist. Tarr and others recruit Smiley as he is a brilliant mind now outside the Circus to solve the case that involves betrayal on all levels.
The novel actually starts with the story of the mysterious Jim Prideaux a crippled teacher at an all boys’ boarding school. His students wonder at his secret past, and for once their musings are true, Prideaux was a spy that was double-crossed. His fate sealed that of Control’s and Smiley’s as well. He was helping to bring down Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy . . . the code names that Control gave to officials within the Circus that he suspected of being double-agents.
I thought this book was masterfully written. It was a bit slow at times, but it all worked with Smiley’s methodical personality. He showed that spying is not always the latest gadgets and hottest women as in the world of James Bond, but sometimes it is the work of painstaking records research and hard hitting interviews. One of my favorite scenes was when a member of the team, Peter Guillam, manages to sneak a secret file out of the circus to take back for Smiley to review. It made me nervous as Guillam was stopped by people going to and fro the file room and you just knew he was going to be captured. My second favorite scene was when Smiley waited barefoot with a gun for the spy to make himself known at a meeting with the Russian informant. He has moments of self-doubt, but he does his duty.
I really liked that through it all, there was a love story between Smiley and Ann. Ann was never “seen” in the novel, but Smiley often thought of her and his friends always asked of her. It was generally known that she carried on affairs, but Smiley seems to have always forgiven her. I really want to know if they end back up together. Will Smiley go to her as he envisioned or will he move on with life? How will he get the Circus back into shape? I can’t wait to listen to the next book to find out.
I thought that Michael Jayston was an excellent narrator and really was the voice of Smiley for me. I always love to listen to a British accent!
I haven’t watched the movie that came out around Christmas or the old 1970’s mini-series, but I feel inspired to watch it now.
Overall, Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy is an excellent spy novel set in the 1970’s – at the height of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. I loved the plot and the characters, and can’t wait to read more about them in the next books!