Captain Tuttle’s #CBR4 Review #28 – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre
I had to re-read this book after seeing the movie. I’d read it back in high school or college, when I was going through a heavy spy-novel phase. Like you do. I thought I knew the story, but was totally lost during the movie, so it clearly needed another read. While the book and the story were very much of their time (Cold War, that is), the story itself still holds up.
George Smiley is a veteran spy, a man who blends in to the background almost too effectively. His wife is cheating on him, and there’s a mole so high up in his organization that the entire network is in danger. Smiley has to investigate behind the scenes – investigate his friends, colleagues, the men who drove him out of the organization, and one of whom may be sleeping with Smiley’s wife.
The story is told in various parallel narratives: Smiley’s investigation; the story of Ricky Tarr, who first brings the story about the mole to Smiley; and the story of Jim Prideaux, who is now in hiding after being captured as a result of the mole’s activities.
There is a lot to follow, but it’s all so well-written and engrossing that it’s easy to keep up with all of the threads until they all tie up into a neat bow at the very end. Now I need to go back and re-watch the movie to make sure I really did get it. Regardless, I recommend both the book and the movie, especially if you go for the spy stuff.