Book #1: Our Kind of Traitor, John Le Carré

I grew up with a man who's slightly Le Carré-obsessed. Le Carré titles (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Smiley's People, The Russia House, A Perfect Spy) make me feel cozy and safe whenever I see them, because they were always there. (This is what I mean about feeling that I've read books without having read them: I've seen them on shelves and heard them described so often - not to mention seeing the movies - that I feel like I've read them, whether I have or not.) So it was appropriate to my 100-book decision to begin with John Le Carré. By total coincidence, my father's presently rereading his entire works in the order they were published, in conjunction with Adam Sisman's John Le Carré: The Biography. And I just happened to read one he hasn't gotten to yet, it being the third-latest release (newest is The Pigeon Tunnel, launched three weeks ago - and how do I know this? - because of my dad). Our Kind of Traitor is a great read - and perfect vacation entertainment, to boot - even more so for me because a point of its plot hinges around a party on a yacht which in the book is anchored off the very part of Croatia's Dalmation Coast where I read the book. The story is told with the kind of analytical observation of character and minute parsing-of-motive that I associate with Ian McEwan, and yet (as it often is with McEwan as well) I found myself turning the pages for the story itself, which is paced and unveiled to perfection. Without giving anything away, I'm also grateful to Le Carré for the very un-Hollywood ending (though I'm excited to see the film starring Ewan McGregor, directed by Susanna White), which reminded me of Akira Kurosawa's The Bad Sleep Well. Want to be gripped by a compelling, unsettling tale of an ususpecting couple caught up in international money-laundering intrigue that'll hold you right to its last page? Well then, you've got your next book. 
 

4 comments

  • Janet

    Janet Yukon Territory

    I read this book a couple of months ago and I was disappointed. I hadn't read any Le Carre for probably twenty years but my memory was that I loved his writing and the excitement of the plots. The writing in this book was still good and the character development was great too, but the plot had too many holes that the reader was supposed to fill in which I didn't find made for a relaxing or exciting read.

    I read this book a couple of months ago and I was disappointed. I hadn't read any Le Carre for probably twenty years but my memory was that I loved his writing and the excitement of the plots. The writing in this book was still good and the character development was great too, but the plot had too many holes that the reader was supposed to fill in which I didn't find made for a relaxing or exciting read.

  • Corin Raymond

    Corin Raymond

    Janet, I love your comment. I had no other Le Carré experiences with which to compare this one - other than that when I saw the movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (the 2011 remake) I had trouble following who was who and what exactly was going on (I know they condensed a lot of plot into 2 hrs) but my experience of Our Kind of Traitor was - not relaxing, it wasn't a relaxing ride or a relaxing world to be in - but I was definitely on edge throughout. It left me excited to read more, so I love hearing that some of his previous books delivered for you in ways that this one didn't. Are there any that you remember that you would particularly recommend?

    Janet, I love your comment. I had no other Le Carré experiences with which to compare this one - other than that when I saw the movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (the 2011 remake) I had trouble following who was who and what exactly was going on (I know they condensed a lot of plot into 2 hrs) but my experience of Our Kind of Traitor was - not relaxing, it wasn't a relaxing ride or a relaxing world to be in - but I was definitely on edge throughout. It left me excited to read more, so I love hearing that some of his previous books delivered for you in ways that this one didn't. Are there any that you remember that you would particularly recommend?

  • Lynlee

    Lynlee Hamilton

    my mom was really into Le Carre too but we didn't have the opportunity to discuss it but she did leave at least one or two books by him that still sit on my shelf. i, too, could set up this very venture....maybe something to take on when i am empty nested.

    my mom was really into Le Carre too but we didn't have the opportunity to discuss it but she did leave at least one or two books by him that still sit on my shelf. i, too, could set up this very venture....maybe something to take on when i am empty nested.

  • Corin Raymond

    Corin Raymond

    Hey Lynlee, what Le Carré titles did your mother leave behind? One of my favourite things about books (movies, albums, etc.) is that they wait for you. Perhaps you'll have some vacation or unexpected reading time at some point. I'm curious to know which ones you've got. Also, for people who are busy raising kids, it might be easier to enjoy a movie every once in a while, and some of his books have been SO beautifully adapted - I think I saw one of the best adaptations of his stuff the other night that I've seen yet - A Most Wanted Man. Holy jumpin'. INCREDIBLE final performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman, among all the other great things. I recommend it. On Netflix.

    Hey Lynlee, what Le Carré titles did your mother leave behind? One of my favourite things about books (movies, albums, etc.) is that they wait for you. Perhaps you'll have some vacation or unexpected reading time at some point. I'm curious to know which ones you've got. Also, for people who are busy raising kids, it might be easier to enjoy a movie every once in a while, and some of his books have been SO beautifully adapted - I think I saw one of the best adaptations of his stuff the other night that I've seen yet - A Most Wanted Man. Holy jumpin'. INCREDIBLE final performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman, among all the other great things. I recommend it. On Netflix.

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