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A Delicate Truth: A Novel by [John le Carré]
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A Delicate Truth: A Novel Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 2,478 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Shockingly, le Carré no longer writes about moral ambiguity. Gone is any semblance of the notion that a government and its emissaries in the secret services could ever be on the side of the individual. That’s been true for several novels—certainly since The Constant Gardener (2001)—but le Carré’s latest is perhaps the most definitive statement yet of his new worldview. It starts with a 2008 counterterrorism operation, code-named Wildfire, gone wrong. A team of agents, led by a British foreign minister and a private defense contractor, was charged with capturing a terrorist on the island of Gibraltar. Billed as a rousing success, the op was, in fact, a fiasco. Three years later, a now-disgraced British agent tells the real story to retired diplomat Sir Christopher Probyn, also involved in the mission but in the dark as to what actually happened. Probyn eventually teams with Toby Bell, secretary to the minister in charge of Wildfire. Bell, also in the dark, starts digging and finds he faces a personal crisis: expose the cover-up and scuttle his career or keep quiet. Whistle-blowers risking life and livelihood to bring evil bureaucrats to their knees have long been a staple of espionage fiction. In le Carré’s new world, however, evil bureaucrats never skin their knees; there are no happy endings, even attenuated ones. We commented in our 2008 review of le Carré’s A Most Wanted Man (a film version of which will open in the fall) on the slow, inexorable way that, in the novel, “institutional will grinds down individual lives.” That grinding process is even more brutal this time around, as le Carré further establishes himself as a master of a new, shockingly realistic kind of noir in which right-thinking individuals who challenge the institutional order of things always lose. No ambiguity there but plenty of gut-wrenching tragedy. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: It’s been nearly 50 years since le Carré broke through with The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. He has set the bar ever since for espionage fiction that appeals to head and heart rather than just quickening the reader’s pulse. --Bill Ott --This text refers to the paperback edition.


“At the moment a new generation is stumbling upon his work, le Carré is still writing at something close to the top of his game…. [A Delicate Truth] is an elegant yet embittered indictment of extraordinary rendition, American right-wing evangelical excess and the corporatization of warfare. It has a gently flickering love story and jangling ending. And le Carré has not lost his ability to sketch, in a line or two, an entire character.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times Magazine (front page)

“The narrative dominoes fall with masterly precision....As ever, le Carré’s prose is fluid, carrying the reader toward an inevitable yet nail-biting climax.”—Olen Steinhauer, The New York Times Book Review

“Timelier than ever.”—The New York Times
“Well-wrought….A sharply sketched gallery of characters.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Le Carré is fiercely modern…a confluence of styles, voices, approaches….A novel that beckons us beyond any and all expectations.”—Washington Post

“[L]e Carré full power with a book that draws on a career’s worth of literary skill and international analysis. No other writer has charted—pitilessly for politicians but thrillingly for readers—the public and secret histories of his times.”—The Guardian (UK)
“Gorgeous writing. It’s sophisticated storytelling at its very best.”—USA Today
“A ripping, fun yarn.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Loyalty to the crown is tested; consciences are checked; and nothing is more terrifying than, as this novel’s protagonist puts it, ‘a solitary decider’ asking himself how on earth he talked himself into this mess.”—The Daily Beast
“A remarkably assured touch…. [Le Carré] has maintained full control of his prodigious literary talents.”—SF Gate

“The dirty deeds are brutal and crude. And so is the cover-up.”—The Huffington Post
“Heady and absorbing....John le Carré remains in full command of both the craft of writing and the art of espionage.”—Christian Science Monitor
“Le Carré further establishes himself as a master of a new, shockingly realistic kind of noir.”—Booklist (Starred)

“This is a guaranteed hair-raising cerebral fright, especially for anyone who enjoyed Robert Harris’s The Ghost or who just knows his or her email account has been hacked.”—Library Journal (Starred)

“Le Carré focuses on the moral rot and creeping terror barely concealed by the affable old-boy blather that marks the pillars of the intelligence community.”—Kirkus Reviews (Starred)

“A great story in sterling prose.”—Publishers Weekly

“Le Carré proves himself a master of character development.”—The Millions
“Another breathtakingly good work…. [the] story hurtles along with the speed of light.”—Newsday

“The upper register of a great writer’s oeuvre. Knowledge is not power in the novel: John le Carré believes that truth, difficult and generous on its own, can also kill you.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Characteristically clever.”—The Kansas City Star

“Stylish, taut storytelling….One of our finest writers.”—Tampa Bay Times
“Witty as it is insightful….A Delicate Truth is a delightful read that unnerves as it entertains.”—The Columbus Dispatch
“The master storyteller, le Carré, is still at war. His foes now are legion. But his battles, and his novels, are flooded with light and hope. He pins his faith, and that of his readers, on the fundamental decency of those most vulnerable and quirky of warriors – the average joes.”—

“Vintage le Carré.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“A career’s worth of literary skill and international analysis…..No other writer has chartered…the public and secret history of his times.”—The Guardian (UK)

“Remarkable….[A Delicate Truth] displays the mastery of the early and the passion of late Le Carré.”—Robert McCrum, The Observer (UK)

“Writing of such quality that…it will be read in one hundred years….[Le Carré] found his canvas in espionage, as Dickens did in other worlds. The two men deserve comparison.”—Daily Mail (UK)

“The tension ratchets up superbly as revelation follows on revelation….[Le Carré] is a writer of towering gifts, whose fiction appeals to a reading public both popular and serious….A talent to provoke as well as unsettle.”—The Independent (UK)
  --This text refers to the paperback edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B00BC24NT4
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin Books (May 7, 2013)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ May 7, 2013
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1715 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 332 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.1 out of 5 stars 2,478 ratings

Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5
2,478 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on July 31, 2016
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Reviewed in the United States on January 1, 2014
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Top reviews from other countries

Jl Adcock
5.0 out of 5 stars Taut, sinister and atmospheric
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 26, 2020
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Liz L
4.0 out of 5 stars the ulltimate unfinished story!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 20, 2020
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Mr. Steve M
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 15, 2019
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Avid Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 30, 2020
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Sid Nuncius
4.0 out of 5 stars Not one of le Carré's best
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 10, 2019
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