Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Review of A Delicate Truth

Book #1. A Delicate Truth, by John Le Carré. Unabridged audio.

With this, I have read all of Le Carré’s novels. I don’t know if the 80+ year-old writer has any more novels planned, but if he does, I’ll probably read them. That is not to say that I have loved all of Le Carré’s novels from the last fifteen years or so. Certainly, his work was at its best during the Cold War, while some of his post-9/11 novels have left me cold.

I found A Delicate Truth to be a bit of a return to form, following the story of the veteran British civil intelligence officer caught up in the machinations of the British police state in the era of the war on terror. The man is involved in a botched kidnapping attempt in Gibraltar, an event that remains buried for years. But a young intelligence officer’s investigation into the affair turns the story into as much of a mystery tale as it is an espionage tale. The young officer faces many personal and professional risks in his attempts to bring the details of this episode to light. Many of his colleagues and superiors would prefer the events to stay buried.

Le Carré experiments with shifting time lines in this novel, and it took a while for me to realize this. Two main characters are in fact the same person, at different stages of their careers in intelligence, operating under different names. Once I “got” this, I appreciated this literary technique.

This is certainly not Le Carré at his best, this book does not crackle with the intensity of his Cold War novels in the 1970s and 1980s. But it is one of his better post-Cold War novels, and I was satisfied with the reading experience.

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