Spy novels have always been a popular brand of book, with espionage being at the forefront of many thrillers and adventures. Most notably, there is Ian Fleming and his creation, James Bond, whose recklessness, only outshadowed by his enduring cool-factor, has captivated audiences for decades, primarily on the big screen where his exploits are shaken but not stirred (I couldn’t resist) with a squeeze of Hollywood glamour.
But then there’s this. Now, I’ve had the good fortune to read a fair amount of books for my age, with all sorts of peculiarities, but I was still relatively daunted at the prospect of reading a book entitled the seemingly gobbledygook name of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I’d heard of it over the last few years, and became more interested in it with the release of its film, in which it was dubbed the intellectual thriller, but really? I was getting confused at the title, never mind the actual book. However, I read on, unfazed, and boy, am I glad that I did.
To start I’d like to say that John le Carré is nothing short of a genius in terms of the scope of the book. You don’t need to read long before you realise how extravagantly complicated and intertwined all the threads of the plot will soon become, and it’s a wonder that he could ever get to anything near a conclusion with what he’s attempted. For something to be so seemingly random yet, eventually, so true is something magnificent, and should not be scoffed at.
The content of this enigma is George Smiley, an experience but now retired MI6 agent. He, however, is asked to come back to help as there is reason to believe there is a Soviet Mole up the hierarchy of the system. Why him? For he’s the only one that can be trusted.
The narrative starts of with pace, the key events which make up the background coming through interrogations and flashbacks, before you have a lot of cards at the table with many possible solutions. You quickly realise that the Mole has the power, and that he has and will continue to have much influence in the Cold War if he remains, so it is vital for his stamping out. I shan’t say anymore in fear of giving anything away, but I hope that this backdrop will entice you to read (and perhaps re-read if you don’t get it first time round) the book. Once you get past the jargon (which I found definitions for on the internet), you’ll find one of the most intricate plots you’ll ever read.