A counter-terror operation, codenamed Wildlife, is being mounted in Britain’s most precious colony, Gibraltar. Its purpose: to capture and abduct a high-value jihadist arms-buyer. Its authors: an ambitious Foreign Office Minister, and a private defence contractor who is also his close friend. So delicate is the operation that even the Minister’s Private Secretary, Toby Bell, is not cleared for it. Suspecting a disastrous conspiracy, Toby attempts to forestall it, but is promptly posted overseas.
Three years on, summoned by Sir Christopher Probyn, retired British diplomat, to his decaying Cornish manor house, and closely watched by Probyn’s daughter Emily, Toby must choose between his conscience and his duty to the Service. If the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing, how can he keep silent?
John le Carre was born in 1931 and attended the universities of Bern and Oxford. He taught at Eton and served briefly in British Intelligence during the Cold War. For the last fifty years he has lived by his pen. He divides his time between London and Cornwall.
©2013 John le Carré (P)2013 Penguin Books Limited
"One of those writers who will be read a century from now" (Robert Harris)
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"A great book brilliantly read."
I am always impressed by John le Carré's amazing ear for dialogue. He barely needs to describe characters because they spring to life when they speak.
He reads wonderfully, bringing out all the nuances in any register of language.
He brings his withering contempt to bear on the cynicism and vanity of politicians and the moral vacuum occupied by Private Arms Contractors and mercenaries. The flawed protagonists, cursed with empathy and principle seem real and dangerously vulnerable.
He allows the villains to justify their actions eloquently. The plausible pragmatists and soapy civil servants with their evasions and fluent falsehoods are also well drawn.
The Cornish episodes are a striking contrast to the chilling control freakery of Government.
The author's reading is a revelation. His ability to inhabit so many characters with their quirks and individuality must derive from his linguistic gifts and a very musical ear.
An outstanding audio book. Recommended.
"Running on empty?"
The broadsheet reviews were generally upbeat along "return to form" lines so I was keen to read - or rather "hear" - it but I was disappointed. Different worlds, of course, but what felt real in the Smiley days, now appears anachronistic, over-familiar and, in so many ways, incredibly stupid. The central characters, by and large, are modelled to fit the plot to a degree that comes at some expense to their credibility and they are marvellously ill-adapted for the jobs they do - like over-sensitive surgeons, who can't bear the sight of blood! The first half the book examines the central event from several points of view and is not without longueurs. The tragic episode at its heart feels too slight to generate the consequences that follow from it. The denouement is frankly hackneyed. That said, any offering by a craftsman of this calibre is always going to be a classy product and this is no exception. His narration too is generally excellent.
"Classic le Carre"
Absolutely, I just loved the plot & John Le Carre's reading & characterisation made the listening all the more memorable.
The ending! I won't say anymore as I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't listened! I just loved it all though.
Mr le Carre should read all his own books, in fact he should read others too for us. I found his characterisation of all the "players" in the story wonderful. I had the feeling that he was "speaking" his characters just as he had heard them in his fertile writer's mind as he wrote the book.
ABSOLUTELY, except I had work & sleep, drat it!
Wonderful classic le Carre, scarily real to our life & times. If you thought all the political thriller plot lines had disappeared with the fall of the Iron Curtain, then think again. The premise of this book is frightening, are we really going back to the 16th century Star Chamber in the 21st?
"Le Carré at his best"
Brilliant and cynical beyond measure. Le Carré's reading is a bit hesitant at the beginning, I thought, but once he got into the story he is brilliant. He's particularly good because he created the characters so he really knows how he wants them to sound. The story is pure Le Carré, and digs deep into some of our greatest fears of government and its links with the United States and with business. And of course basically, like a lot of Le Carré's books, the story is about personal betrayal and loyalty. The story unfolds very slowly and if you like high drama this is not for you. But if you worry about how the government spends its money and whether Britain is involved in extraordinary rendition and its consequences for our consciences this is the book for you.
"He has still got it"
Many people will favour John Le Carre's earlier cold war spy novels, especially the matchless Smiley stories. But Le Carre's war-on-terror works replace dignified despair with searing fury at the intermingling of corporate agendas and political corruption.
I found this more satisfying than the last couple of books. It is pacy and with a series of realistic but typically decent protagonists doing their best to uphold a romantic view of "what is right" amidst messy, sordid complexity. The ending is perhaps predictable given the stance that the author takes so consistently, but is, as always, free of schmaltz or unbelievable twists.
Le Carre himself reads it with polish and verve; his voice rich and full.
A typically satisfying, absorbing tale from one of our very finest writers.
"The Spymaster Speaks"
Have really enjoyed this book especially as John Le Carre narrated it. I will agree with other reviews though about the end it does feel like there is an epilogue to come (I do hope so)
I have become quite attached to the characters throughout and want to know more about them.
This is well worth a listen it is warm and comfortable, With a nice familiar feel to it but not repetitive
Loved listening to this audio book,would like to recommend to my family and friends t..
"Slightly too straightforward for le Carré?"
From most authors this would rank as a 5 star read, but le Carré is better than that. We're told it's a return to form, and it certainly is a very good book. My only real problem is that it is rather straight forward. It doesn't take too much to see how the plot will unfold from about half way in. We're missing those great analytical views that made his Smiley books so great, or the interplay of motives, and wheels within wheels that made the Night Manager so enthralling.
Sorry to the great man but while good this isn't his best.
"One angry old Tory tries to tell the truth"
Out of place and out of time about sums it up. All the old certainties are warped as private enterprise asserts it's unprincipled strength in a world whose previous values are challenged. Espionage isn't what it used to be and who knows where the truth lies? Drops off a bit towards the end but nonetheless gripping tale of what but truth and lies. Well worth the effort.
"Slow burn but really, really worth the wait!"
I am a great lover of John Le Carre novels and therefore I grabbed this new release immediately it was offered to audible members. What excellent value. Particularly as I think John Le Carre is great to listen to - this medium seeming more able to cope with the complex story lines than the written word or film adaptations. Truth is I did nevertheless struggle with A Delicate Truth to begin with - indeed I did consider abandoning the exercise altogether (something I very rarely do). Thank goodness I didn't - because this is a great tale with characters that you will really care about.I can't tell you any more about the plot without giving away the ending - but I can tell you that you get much closer to the characters than you usually do in a Le Carre story. I just loved them.
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