Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was the second Le Carre novel I read. As the title suggests, the story is a cold war spy tale about a double agent in the seemingly incorruptible British Intelligence.
The protagonist is George Smiley a veteran officer and the Chief or Control’s right hand man. He is brought back on a last mission after a monotonous retirement; finding the mole. The suspects are 4 of the top officials who could be working for Moscow, each aptly named tinker, tailor, soldier and so on. Smiley has to apply not just his logic and gut but also piece scattered memories together to catch him.
I personaly find the James Bond-esque spies fun to watch, but I don’t find it very believable. Le Carre’s novel portrays a more grounded and harsh truth behind all the fascination; which is exactly why I’m a fan. The novel presents interesting characters, each with a mysterious past that needs to be unravelled. In the days where there were no personal computers and cell phones, the telegram and letter approach to the game is interesting to read. The slightest of observations and trivial habits can reveal so much about a person. Much of the game depends on intuition and memories of retired staff.
Connie Sachs, Witchcraft, the Circus all have such thrilling sides to it that the book simply can’t be put down.
Also read: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carre, Smiley’s People by John le Carre.