A lawyer from the London finance house of Single & Single is shot dead on a Turkish hillside by people with whom he thought he was in business. A children's magician is asked by his bank to explain the unsolicited arrival of more than five million pounds sterling in his young daughter's modest trust. A freighter bound for Liverpool is boarded by Russian coast guards in the Black Sea. The celebrated London merchant venturer "Tiger" Single disappears into thin air.
In Single & Single the writer who both epitomizes and transcends the novel of espionage opens with a haunting set piece, then establishes a sequence of events whose connections are mysterious, complex, and compelling. This is a story of corrupt liaisons between criminal elements in the new Russian states and the world of legitimate finance in the West. Le Carré's finest novel in years, it is also an intimate portrait of two families: one Russian, the other English; one trading illicit goods, the other laundering the profits; one betrayed by a son-in-law, the other betrayed, and redeemed, by a son.
This is territory le Carré knows better than anyone. Masterful and prescient, he is writing at the top of his creative powers, and Oliver Single, the central protagonist, is one of his most fascinating characters yet.
©1999 John le Carre (P)2012 Simon & Schuster
"Le Carré reveals a world at once deeply disquieting and oddly reassuring." (People)
"Any reader who feared that the end of the Cold War would deprive Mr. le Carré of his subject can now feel a measure of relief. If anything, his subject of East-West misunderstanding has grown richer, and he now possesses vast new territories to mine." (The New York Times)
John le Carre is a master at knowing when to cut a scene and what to leave out, how to give just enough information to make you pay attention and figure things out. The way he layers out information can be as puzzling as life but not so puzzling that, even listening, you can't keep track. Except with this book. I recommend it as a book to read rather than to hear because it jumps around in time and place so quickly and frequently that the listener is constantly playing catch-up, especially if you listen while doing something else and your attention is split.
Those who find the book fully absorbing might be OK with it. It's harder to follow the narrative thread if you're not invested in the main character, Oliver Single. He's a cipher, a blank slate on which others write. That's his purpose in the book. He might summon up some backbone in the end--I won't know until I get a hard copy from the library and finish reading with my eyes instead of my ears.
The main strength is that Michael Jayston is such a good narrator that you will know who is talking even when you don't know where or when the scene is occurring.
A common thread that would have connected the story line.
Normally I can follow a le Carre plot but not this one and I've either read or listened to 6 or 7of his books. I’m not sure I will spend my money on another. I think I’ll return this one for credit. I’m very sorry I wasted my time.
Don't know how he followed the plot.
Always love how le Carre expresses the snobbery of the upper class Brits.
Don't waste your time on this one.
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