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Single & Single Unknown Binding – February, 2001

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Unknown Binding, February, 2001

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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Scribner (February 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743216520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743216524
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,357,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Well written in LeCarre's style.
harris c. friedman
Complicated plot, too many characters, no summation no redeeming qualities in main characters, This story lacked the background info usually a part of his novels.
I had to finish this book, to see how it ended, but mostly I wanted to get through it so that I could start reading something else.
david alvar

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Bernard on February 27, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
After the utter disappointment of The Tailor of Panama, Le Carre's latest novel harks back to his crafty old ways. His writing is superb, particularly in the treatment of the father-son relationship and he knows the way around scenes of physical and psychological tension better than any other author I know. The opening chapters are brilliant and his ability to put together a seemingly complex puzzle is still in top form, albeit with somewhat less shine than in his early masterpieces set during the Cold War. However, this outing is deceptively timid by comparison. The plot, when revealed, is simple and contains no surprises. We know who's the crook from the start, don't we? The approach to the climax is indeed rushed and the big bang one hopes for fails to materialise. Despite these flaws, it's still a very good read and I'm glad to see Le Carre regaining some of the lustre that made him, in my opinion, the best and classiest espionage author of his generation.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By M. Haque on December 23, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
John le Carre has produced another masterful novel. The basic theme is individual decency, loyalty and helplessness. Unlike his Cold War novels, the backdrop is capitalist Russia and international finance, instead of espionage.

This is the story of Oliver Single, apprentice at his father Tiger's financial empire, messenger between Single & Single and a Georgian/Russian family, the Orlovs. He falls in love with the Orlov family and their daughter Goya, but betrays both his father and the Orlovs by walking to the government to tell all. Sent into hiding by the government, he comes out again four years later, in search of his father Tiger Single, who has disappeared after Single & Single's top lawyer is executed on a Turkish hilltop.

Tortured by his betrayal and by his conscience, Oliver is the heart of the novel.

This is also the story of Alix Hoban, a Westernized Russian crook. Married to Goya Orlov but faithful only to himself, Alix makes ambitious plans for selling his peoples' blood to the West, but failing that, runs a drug trafficking business on a massive scale, from Istanbul and Vienna. He tries to take over both the Orlov and the Single empires, but his ruthlessness does not pay off in the end.

This is also the story of Brock, fighting corruption in British law enforcement and running undercover operations for evidence against Single & Single. (This part I found untenable. Aren't ruthless bloodthirsty financialists the engine of Anglo-American growth and imperialism? Why should the British government run operations against its finest wealth-creators? But, okay, fiction is fiction.)

And this novel is a story of ruthlessness, and a vision of how the rich & powerful actually run this world of ours.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
In the battle between those who can't seem to comprehend the elliptical style perfected by Le Carre (who give it one star in their reviews) and those who claim that Single & Single is a masterpiece (five stars), I come out on the positive side, but with a few reservations. Yes, the first 125 pages are slow. Yes, the writing can be maddeningly obtuse at times. And yes, none of the characters are complete models of moral integrity. But, if you expected something else from Le Carre, you've clearly not read his prior work. His books always take a while to draw you in. His lack of clarity in individual scenes are like brushstokes--eventually leading to a picture that (even though impressionistic) stands beautifully by itself. And Le Carre remains the superstar portrayer of moral ambiguity. In my view, Single & Single is completely consistent with Le Carre's other work. It's a very good addition to his body of work and delivers in the end. On the other hand, it's not among his very best (the Karla trilogy, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold), but it's certainly better than The Tailor of Panama (a book that had me believing that Le Carre may have lost his way). Welcome back, John, and please write a few more. It's so nice to see a thoughtful, literate, and entertaining book on the best seller list (even if it's only for a few weeks).
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 2, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you read this book expecting one of Le Carre's spy novels, you will be disappointed because although there are connections to the spy world this is not a spy novel. If you keep an open mind about what will emerge in Single & Single, you will enjoy an interesting tale of good and evil drawn through the detective genre. At its best, Single & Single is as gripping as any Le Carre book -- especially in the first few chapters. The downside is that the tawdriness of almost all the characters make the book a bit of a downer. The Cold War stories in Le Carre's earlier books had the redeeming (and sometimes inspiring) quality of addressing more kinds of potential nobility. The hero in Single & Single is a rewardingly complex figure, righteous yet not always strong enough and conflicted . . . and more than a little idealistic, reminding one of Don Quixote. If you like heros like that, you will very much enjoy the book. If you find small-minded crooks pursuing their ends in petty, immoral ways relatively uninteresting, you will meet a lot of them here. I found myself mixing the crooks up in many cases because they seemed so similar in motivation and characterization. Perhaps the best part of the book is the subtle exploration of a son's feelings for a father, even when that father doesn't really add up to a lot. Although far from his best work (probably because of the subject rather than his writing skill), this Le Carre will satisfy all but the most demanding fans. Those who will be disappointed will include those who want a startling revelation at the end. That's not the way this story is constructed. It would be a mistake not to read it, however, if you are a Le Carre fan or just like a good story.
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More About the Author

John le Carre was born in 1931. His third novel, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, secured him a worldwide reputation, which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy: Tinke, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Honorable Schoolboy, and Smiley's People. His novels include The Little Drummer Girl, A Perfect Spy, The Russia House, Our Game, The Taileor of Panama, and Single & Single. John le Carre lives in Cornwall.

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