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Publisher's Summary

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

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  • Craig
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 06-05-13

You already know how it ends

What would have made A Delicate Truth better?

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.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Something not by John LeCarre.

Which character – as performed by John le Carre – was your favorite?

Toby.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from A Delicate Truth?

The last half of the novel.

Any additional comments?

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.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Delicate indeed

A pleasure to hear the author narate....enjoyed the experience. The mood and detail are good too.

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Great story!

Great story, beautifully narrated, with a marvelous vocabulary that we in America sometimes pronounce in different ways.
Looking forward to the next of his stories on
Audible. Please......for us.

  • Overall

Beautifully written and rad by John LeCarre

The problem with LeCarre's books is their relentless gloominess, and uniformly unhappy about - no, soul-crushing - endings. This book is somewhat different, but I unhesitatingly recommend it because of its beautiful prose, and the author's fantastic narration.

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Great performance frustrating end

The reading was well done - different voicing but not so much as to be annoying. The story ending... not great Carrie - terminates rather than ends

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Le Carre is a great actor as well as great writer

I love hearing John Le Carre read his books. One of the best. Ever.

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Great prose, laborious to follow

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.

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The master at work

Wonderful in every regard and what a treat to hear the author reading his own words.

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A brilliant, realistic, and sad story by a keen observer of our twenty-first century world.

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.

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Just didn't care for ending really

Otherwise beautifully spoken and carefully crafted, with several absolutely spot on sentences from modern mercenary warfare and international relations