A Delicate Truth by John le Carre
It's 2008 and Paul is recruited by, apparently, the government to assist in an undercover operation in Gibraltar. It's perfectly straightforward and its success will impede a cell of Al Qaeda. Paul performs, is thanked and taken home without complications. Fast forward to 2011 and Toby Bell is promoted to the role of private secretary for Paul's recruiter, MP Fergus Quinn. Whilst acquainting himself with Quinn's CV, Toby uncovers the story of the mission, discovering not only Quinn's involvement but hints that it may not have been as straightforward as all that. Quinn also appears to have been connected with an organisation that's not all it seems, unfortunately for a particular pillar of a Cornish community for whom life will never be the same again.
|A Delicate Truth by John le Carre|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: Have you always thought le Carre is difficult to follow? If so, this twisty exciting thriller is just for you. A politician authorises secret ops for the good of a nation who don't know the half of it. Cracking stuff!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: April 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
David John Moore Cornwell wrote his first novel in 1961 under the name of John le Carre and never looked back. Now, 22 novels and 2 non-fiction titles later, he's undisputed British literary royalty who has seen many of his works immortalised on TV and movie screens. However he also has a reputation as one who writes for deep thinkers which, for many readers, creates a force-field around his work like a high wall around a swimming pool. If you feel like that my advice to you is to break through the wall and plunge in; the water's lovely!
Admittedly some of his spy thrillers like those featuring George Smiley do require a little concentration although this comes with its own rich rewards. However his recent novels embracing political issues like the pharmacological giants in The Constant Gardener are hugely accessible from the beginning and A Delicate Truth is just such a book.
We're dropped straight into the action as we go to Gibraltar with Paul and empathetically pick up on his excitement and fear, not to mention his total wonderment as to why he was even chosen. It takes young, ambitions and dangerously curious Toby to realise the reason as the past returns to haunt them both. Gradually as the tempo increases le Carre the craftsman ensures we expect a baddie in every flower pot. Being such a craftsman also means that, although we expect this, one or two of their appearances make us jump. When the characters aren't being justifiably paranoid, we more than compensate, especially during some wonderful cat-and-mouse set pieces.
Not only does John Le Carre entertain, he also leaves us with a sense of foreboding as we start to wonder how much of this novel's premise is actually fictional. Looking at the skill sets of those whose assistance the author acknowledges at the back, perhaps our freedom comes at a greater price and with greater compromise than any government would be willing to admit? After reading this, the 10 o'clock news will never be the same again.
If you've enjoyed this then the whole back catalogue of a literary maestro awaits. Go on… you won't regret it.
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