A Delicate Truth opens in 2008. A counter-terrorist operation, codenamed Wildlife, is being mounted on the British crown colony of Gibraltar. Its purpose: to capture and abduct a high-value jihadist arms buyer. Its authors: an ambitious Foreign Office Minister, a private defense contractor who is also his bosom friend, and a shady American CIA operative of the evangelical far right. So delicate is the operation that even the Minister’s personal private secretary, Toby Bell, is not cleared for it.
Cornwall, UK, 2011: A disgraced Special Forces Soldier delivers a message from the dead. Was Operation Wildlife the success it was cracked up to be - or a human tragedy that was ruthlessly covered up? Summoned by Sir Christopher ("Kit") Probyn, retired British diplomat, to his decaying Cornish manor house, and closely observed by Kit’s beautiful daughter, Emily, Toby must choose between his conscience and duty to his Service. If the only thing necessary to the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing, how can he keep silent?
©2013 John le Carré (P)2013 Penguin Audio
I would have passed on reviewing this novel as the last le Carré novel I read was Constant Gardner, followed by about a third of Tinker Tailor..., and I feel there are more informed le Carré fans that already cover his books with better insight than I could. But, I recommended this book to a friend that disliked it very much, surprised that I liked it at all. Looking again at the reviews (which convinced me to try le Carré again), I realized most of the reviewers indicate they are fans or followers of le Carré's work. I'm a fan, but not so consistent. I view le Carré's novels as timeless, sophisticated writing about British espionage, characteristically strongly tinted with lively moral outrage, (and--nothing like James Bond) -- I've followed his books long enough to accept this caveat upon purchase. I now understand how a reader experiencing the le Carré phenomenon for the first time might think they are getting a lightweight piece of British noir from a white-hat-wearing cantankerous Brit with a bad taste for Americans and a diseased society.
Le Carré characters tell the story to the reader with a person to person intimate style, very much in character, passing along the top secret story and bringing the reader into the espionage, something he does better than any contemporary writer in this genre. As in any conversation, if you aren't listening to the person speaking to you, especially in the sometimes hushed tones of esoteric code-speak, affected with the innuendo of the specific lifestyle, you won't know what is going on. A Delicate Truth begins in a confusing maelstrom of events; le Carré doesn't insult the reader's intelligence by spoon-feeding you the game plan, or by bloating the dialogue with information -- attention and observation crystallize the details as you listen. The characters aren't overly sketched, but the details garnered are artfully defining and individual hallmarks. He leaves the tech-gadgets to Ian Fleming, relying more on integrity and honor than reflexive aim and brute force (which I am also all for). The action may not get your adrenalin pumping, but the dead-on assessment of our global greed and ruthlessness drives in deeper than any bullet could.
This wasn't my fav le Carré, but I did think it a good one -- a return to a style of his books I preferred, with taught suspense and a plot that could erupt in a single simple action (or lack thereof). I enjoyed being a part of the intellectual and moral process. The author's bona fide performance as narrator, with his *humphs* and audible exasperations, gives an added exuberance to the story and the characters. I fault myself for not giving my friend the *caveat* with the recommendation--maybe he would have approached the book the wiser. I enjoyed le Carré again, and am glad I took the time to read the reviews of his fans. A good thoughtful listen in true le Carré style.
Reading, the arts and physical activity clarify, explain, illustrate, and interpret life’s goods and bads.
Of course. His stories dig deep into the frailities and evils of those holding power. [Did I miss something; was there a reason the Audible review inquiries needed to name le Carre twice?]
The story was interesting but it is dfficult to explain why? The characters were not at all dynamic, (although one was frustratingly unaware), the plot was plottingly sketchy, and the story was not believeable. I would imagine one gets carried along with le Carre's wonderful use of the English language and manner in which this master can describe - whatever.
Not necessary. There is a lot more value out there to read - including many other of le Carre's works.
The book was not wonderful yet le Carre leaves one thinking about this and that and you end up saying no so bad of a read. Yet, there are bettter.
Photographer, nature & water geek, music lover, book fiend.
My mother-in-law turned me on to the works of John LeCarre more than 15 years ago, with "Smiley's People" and since that time I've read everything I could get my hands on. John LeCarre is not only a master of the spy genre, but literature itself. His prose is precise and beautiful; often times I'll find myself re-reading lines or paragraphs just to enjoy the way he phrases things so artfully. His characters and the stories they inhabit are unmatched. No punches are pulled and his works are based in a world much closer to reality than the "we're good/infallible/always heroic and justice driven" world of most fiction (and most politicians). If near-immortality is ever scientifically possible, I'm hoping LeCarre uses whatever contacts he may still maintain in the intelligence world to prolong his life (and continue writing).
The best Le Carre yet, revealing the impenetrable moral equivocations of the corporate ascendancy in politics and war. The author reads with such simplicity and depth.
A well constructed story with a totally believable plot and well developed characters.
Mostly because of the reader it reminds me a lot of my personal favourite JLC book, Absolute Friends. The plot is of course different, but the quality of the writing and the reading is almost as good.
I dont think his books translate well to film, they are much better as TV series - for example the Smiley series, probably the best TV series I have ever seen.
There is a real benefit to having an author read his own work; the intonation, vocabulary and the "sense" of the story is far better than any other approach. Le Carre is truly blessed as an excellent writer with a superb reading voice and style.
Please let me exchange it. Audible advertises this service but they do not make it easy to actually accomplish this task.
If it wasn't so predictable. And if the characters were not so cartoonish. LeCarre's first few books were wonderful, complex, and unpredictable. His last few run like this: The good guys will end badly. They will end badly after making utterly stupid mistakes that the protagonists in his first few novels would have considered incompetent. In "A Delicate Truth" the good guys, all of them, achieve nothing toward their moral and praiseworthy goal, because they act like rookies, despite their years of experience and knowledge of tradecraft.
Something not by John LeCarre.
The last half of the novel.
I used to love John LeCarre. That was when his characters, both good and evil, behaved intelligently. His last 4 novels involve characters who behave like rank amateurs. In "A Delicate Truth", the main protagonist doesn't see things coming, which a 3rd grade reader would see coming a mile away. There is never any surprise anymore in his novels. The good guys are moral. They are self-defeating. They will end up very badly. The instrument of their bad ends will be telegraphed long before the end of the novel, and reader will wonder how the protagonist could not have seen it coming, when everyone else could. Sad ending for John LeCarre. He used to be able to write fiction. Now he writes cartoons.
Would and did.
For me, the most memorable moments are when Le Carre puts you in the midst of a terrifying and crucial moment, and slows time down to the point where you can smell, hear and feel the environment in which that moment exists.
Le Carre is a SUPERB narrator. One of the best. I would always, always prefer to hear him read his own books (or anyone's book, for that matter). He has everything - a craftsman's acting talent, a beautiful voice, the gravitas and subtlety necessary to convey the material without ever overplaying it. And I have to say that he is in the peak of form here - one of his best narrating jobs, and that's saying a lot.
This book, perhaps because of the extent of the author's human experience at this stage of his life, is extremely moving on some very subtle levels, but possibly the most moving character of all is Jeb. Wonderful character. If he weren't so beautifully and honestly fleshed-out as a character, his storyline might be melodramatic. But he is sketched out with such plain truth, and in such simple lines, that he rings absolutely true and is therefore ten times more tragic.
This is, to my mind, Le Carre at his very best. I love him as an author, but some of his most recent books have not hit home for me as deeply as his some of his earlier work. With this one, he returns triumphantly in his finest form and it makes me so happy. I could not be more delighted.
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