A Delicate Truth – John Le Carre

Penguin Books Canada was kind enough to send me an advance copy of the latest work from John le Carre, and I simply devoured this one…

With his latest novel A Delicate Truth, le Carre continues to prove he is a master wordsmith, carving out a tense thriller driven by complex characters and crackling dialogue, only in the UK can a character sound completely polite while lacing his words with a threatening undertone.

Operation Wildfire is a quiet exercise to grab a high-value arms buyer in Gibraltar, a co-op between the British and some American mercs. Serving as eyes-on-the-ground, ‘Paul,’ a member of the Foreign Office, oversees the op with the British unit assigned to it.

The tension escalates rapidly from the get-go, as the operation is set up, and then in a blur, everything is done, ‘Paul’ is bundled back to England and told that the mission went off without a hitch…

Or did it?

3 years later, two men get caught up in an event that has been covered up at the highest levels. Sir Christopher ‘Kit’ Probyn, and a minster’s private secretary, Toby Bell begin to start tugging away at the threads when a voice from the past reveals itself.

How high does it go? If all it takes for evil to succeed it for good men to do nothing… who will make a stand? And what will it cost them to reveal the truth?

lecarreLe Carre has crafted a wonderfully tense book, more often than not, I would stop halfway through a sentence to realize that I was literally sitting on the edge of my chair, hunched over the pages. He has a way of ratcheting the tension through his dialogue, you can hear them in brisk, curt tones in your head, as subjects are debated, orders are given and accusations are made.

Le Carre novels have always been grounded in a believable reality, with real people caught up in terrifying situations, and A Delicate Truth is no different, as the protagonists come up against walls as people are bought off, manipulated, blackmailed and suicided all around them.

This is a potboiler from the get-go and an exhilarating read.

It’s been a long time since I picked up a le Carre novel, the last one I read being The Russia House in the early 90s. I’m thinking it’s time to go back and revisit books I’ve read, and catch up on those I’ve missed.

I’ve kept my review deliberately vague, because I went into this story practically blind, and that I think is the best way to do it, so each revelation, each dead-end is equally exulting or frustrating.

I simply love the way he handles his dialogue and the ending, to my mind, is nigh on perfect.

Do you have a favorite le Carre novel? What one would you recommend most?

I think he’s found his way to the top of my summer reading list!

What are you reading?

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. I read Tinter Tailor Soldier Spy last year but didn’t really appreciate it because I had seen the movie already and spent too much time trying to remember who was who. I saw many posts about this new book and was going to pass but you’ve convinced me that I need to add this to my To Read list. Thank you!

    1. TD Rideout says:

      Good choice Stephanie, I really like the way this story works, and the characters play out. You’re not quite sure who to trust, and how much to trust them. Let me know what you think of it when you’re done!
      Tim

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