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 had no idea for the few several hours what was going on. I believe this was by design from the author. More than halfway through, it all comes together. It wasn't an easy read, but it paid off. The prose and the dialogue are superhuman. The end, while perhaps called for by the genre, was to inconclusive for my preference. It could however be that it was perfect. All in all, a flawed masterpiece.
It feels as though lifetimes have passed since a thoughtful and decent man named George Smiley uncovered a mole operating in the deepest and most trusted quarters of England's intelligence services. Somehow, during this time, the ethics and values of intelligence operatives -- and the democracies for which they work -- have eroded.
Continuing along the path Le Carre set 'with his recent works ("A Perfect Spy", "Absolute Friends" and "Our Kind of Traitor"), he documents the intrinsic dishonesty of spying as a profession, and the progressive corruption of Western democratic values we have witnessed over the past two or three decades. In a calm style, and with an exquisite ear for human dialogue, he leads us through a post-Gulf War world in which torture is euphemized by phrases such as "enhanced interrogation" and kidnappings which require violation of another nation's sovereign territory are obfuscated by declaring that the War on Terror requires occasional cases of "extreme rendition".
It is this world, painfully contemporary and real, in which the protagonist of "A Delicate Truth" finds himself. At one level this is a taut, well written spy story which hooks the reader and makes him want to keep reading until the last words are done, at another, it is a deep and considered account of the descent of Western democracy into a darkness which makes it increasingly difficult to distinguish it from its totalitarian and terrorist enemies.
Nothing like a good read.....(or listen!).
Le Carre is great but don't give up the day job leave the reading to M Jayston please
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