Tuesday, 3 July 2001

John le Carre: Smiley's People (1980)

Edition: Pan, 1980 (Buy from Amazon)
Review number: 856

Once again, the British intelligence service known as the Circus is unable to get on without George Smiley, who is recalled a second time from retirement to sort out a problem related to Russian spymaster Karla, controller of the high ranking mole in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

The problem he is called in to sort out begins with the murder of one of the leaders of the community of Estonian refugees, at one time important parts of the Circus' network of agents, but now considered to belong to the past. What Smiley has to work out is what it is that the old man has discovered which has made the
Russians decide that suddenly he is worth killing.

Cleearly in the tradition of the detective early Smiley novels, Smiley's People is not as successful as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or The Honourable Schoolboy. In those novels, others are entrusted with th operational legwork; here Smiley himself investigates the death in England and Germany, and leads a group in Switzerland. Given his age, he makes an unlikely operative; he was a spy in the war, and this novel if contemporary with its setting (as it seems to be) is thirty five years later.

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