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2014 50 Book Challenge - Page 133

post #1981 of 2323
Clockwise counting 64/50: Edward Wilson - The Whitehall Mandarin (2014)

This is a really good spy story. It doesn't have Le Carre's brilliant language but it reads like a fascinating journalistic account of a power politics chess game between China, Soviet Union and USA, as seen through the eyes of English spies. Not counting the master John Le Carre, this is probably the best spy story I have read.
post #1982 of 2323
I have not read Le Carre - is there a best novel with which to start?
post #1983 of 2323
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - the first in the Smiley series. Pretty complex.
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold - an earlier more straightforward classic.

Le Carre doesn't write spy novels as thrillers, it's all about moral ambiguity.
post #1984 of 2323
Def The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.. IMO there is a small connection with the later Smiley novels.
post #1985 of 2323
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

Def The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.. IMO there is a small connection with the later Smiley novels.

Yes, Smiley is a minor character in most of Le Carre's novels pre-Tinker.
post #1986 of 2323
Thanks!!
post #1987 of 2323
40. The Dinner
The DinnerThe Dinner by Herman Koch

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


In The Dinner, Herman Koch invites us to an excruciating dinner at an insufferable restaurant with four pretty repellent people discussing what they are going to do about a horrible crime that they are aware of.

There are some surprises along the way but, without giving away too much, Koch’s ending casts so much doubt on what went on before that you don’t know what to make of the book at all really. Personally, I found the ending bewildering and it ruined what little pleasure I found in the book.



View all my reviews
post #1988 of 2323
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - the first in the Smiley series. Pretty complex.
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold - an earlier more straightforward classic.

Le Carre doesn't write spy novels as thrillers, it's all about moral ambiguity.

At the risk of sounding like a pedant, TTSS is the first of what is known as the Karla trilogy. There are books about Smiley going back as far as 1960’s The Call For the Dead. Those early books are interesting for a bit of character background if you’re keen, but they are not in the class of the Karla books. Definitely agree that you should start with The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. Interestingly, le Carre mucks about with the ages of Smiley and Guillam between that book and TTSS, so they don’t quite gel.
post #1989 of 2323
I thought the gentleman who turned up as The Honourable School Boy was shot in the back at the end of The Spy. I wallowed through TTSS (figured it out halfway through the book), Could barely open the School Boy, but LOVED Smiley's People.
post #1990 of 2323
Yeah, with "Smiley series" I meant the Karla trilogy. And The Honourable School Boy is my personal favourite of the three.

It was a long time since I read The Spy but I think you are mixing up two characters Steve. One is Alec Leamas and the other (the schoolboy) is Jerry Westerby.

It's a lot of work keeping track of the personalities in "the Circus" (MI6).
post #1991 of 2323
Clockwise counting 65/50: Robert Harris - An Officer and a Spy (2013)

Another brilliant historical adventure from Harris. This time he tells the story of the Dreyfus Affair which was a big scandal in 1890s France. French officer Dreyfus was wrongly convicted for being a Germany spy and deported to Devil's Island. The protagonist is the new head of French intelligence, George Picquard, who gradually starts to discover an army conspiracy to frame Dreyfus. This novel is about anti-semitism (Dreyfus is Jewish), about the individual conscience in conflict with the state machine (Picquard takes on the French state at great risk to his own life) but most of all it's an exciting spy adventure.
post #1992 of 2323
80. Brionne Louis L'Amour 1968

The book opens with a gang of ruffians burning Major Brionne's house and killing his wife. Brionne brings the killer to justice, thereby infuriating the rest of his blackguard clan. They pursue Brionne and his young son into Utah, where they meet President Grant's surreptitious body guard and a beautiful woman on a quest for a silver mine.

Heady stuff.
post #1993 of 2323
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Yeah, with "Smiley series" I meant the Karla trilogy. And The Honourable School Boy is my personal favourite of the three.

It was a long time since I read The Spy but I think you are mixing up two characters Steve. One is Alec Leamas and the other (the schoolboy) is Jerry Westerby.

It's a lot of work keeping track of the personalities in "the Circus" (MI6).

Is Leamas the one who works at the boys' prep school?
post #1994 of 2323
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

Is Leamas thee one who works at the boys' prep school?

No, if that's Leamas, Le Carre is even more complicated. However - trust no one / nothing.
post #1995 of 2323
58 The Confessor A Gabriel Allon Thriller by Daniel Silva

59 The Messenger A Gabriel Allon Thriller by Daniel Silva
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