Our Kind of Traitor (John le Carre, 2011)

Cautiously recommended.

My few attempts to engage the old spymaster since the Smiley days have met with disappointment. Nothing exactly wrong with Our Game or The Tailor of Panama. Just sort of meh, as if le Carre had forgotten all the qualities that set him apart from John Buchan to begin with.

I picked this up because it was touted as a comeback and, for once, the crit-illuminati wasn’t selling an entire bill of goods. There’s an intriguing set-up and a degree of Jamesian force in the ending. The degree could have been a lot higher if le Carre had also been able to recapture his old delight in post-Victorian language and mid-Victorian character development, but at this moment in literary history, I’ll take what I can get.


2 thoughts on “JULY BOOK REPORT (7/12)

  1. I agree with your critique. Not that _Our Game_ nor _The Tailor of Panama_ were bad books, they weren’t. Any newer writer would have been proud of either of them, but they did not have the nuances or atmosphere of LeCarre’s earlier works.

    Still, all in all, my favorite author.

    Roger K.

  2. I think there might be something about the Russians that brings out the best in him. I actually wanted this new book to be longer–that the ending would have been even more powerful if we had been allowed to stay with the characters a bit more.
    I do wonder if the best spy novelists maybe see too much of the world, though. More than anything Le Carre seems a bit tired and something similar happened with Ambler and Greene…Still hope he keeps at it because even medium level Le Carre is a long step up from the average.

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