- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (October 12, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0670022241
- ISBN-13: 978-0670022243
- Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (331 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Our Kind of Traitor: A Novel Hardcover – October 12, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Those readers who have found post–cold war le Carré too cerebral will have much to cheer about with this Russian mafia spy thriller. While on holiday in Antigua, former Oxford tutor Perry Makepiece and his lawyer girlfriend, Gail Perkins, meet Dmitri "Dima" Vladimirovich Krasnov, an avuncular Russian businessman who challenges Perry to a tennis match. Even though Perry wins, Dima takes a shine to the couple, and soon they're visiting with his extended family. At Dima's request, Perry conveys a message to MI6 in England that Dima wishes to defect, and on arriving home, Perry and Gail receive a summons from MI6 to a debriefing. Not only is Dima a Russian oligarch, he's also one of the world's biggest money launderers. Le Carré ratchets up the tension step-by-step until the sad, inevitable end. His most accessible work in years, this novel shows once again why his name is the one to which all others in the field are compared.
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From Bookmarks Magazine
Much to the dismay of many longtime fans, le Carré chose to keep up with the times after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Yet, despite his shift from Cold War-era espionage to more contemporary themes, le Carré's signature stark prose, pitch-perfect dialogue, authentic characters, and moral indignation have stood the test of time. The critics were pleased to see "the master" (Telegraph) back in action, but some had reservations: While the Guardian lamented the "long, fussily narrated opening," the Scotsman praised Traitor's "long and elegantly paced plot." Others quibbled about some dubious plot devices and cartoonish villains, but these complaints paled beside "the old magic" (Telegraph). Intriguing and tense, Traitor shines a blinding, angry, and welcome light on shady international finances and underhanded intelligence agents.
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Top Customer Reviews
Critics have always debated whether le Carre is a literary writer. Some said yes, some no. James Wood said, "By the standards of contemporary thrillers, it is magnificent ... but the detail is reassuringly flat ... nothing out of the ordinary ... commercial realism." Nevertheless, we always felt elitist to prefer le Carre to Clancy.
His themes dealt with good people in good governments trying to fight the good war only to trip over moral hazards along the way. And naïve idealists lured by the outer rationalism of an ideology, only to be destroyed by evil ideologues demanding absolute allegiance. His irony focuses on the West's slide into moral ambiguity in its pursuit of moral corruption.
Unfortunately, like a skilled singer, the sharpness of a writer dissipates after a certain age. After Smiley's People, his work is inconsistent with flashes of his old self in Russia House and Constant Gardener. His voice became grumpy as he bitched about American policy and corporate evil after the end of the cold war.
Now the seventy-nine-year-old curmudgeon has focused his rhythmic prose on the titanic shift in the world's power players. In his usual subtle plot, Our Kind of Traitor plays out the end of Britain's claim to power. London, the financial center of the world until WWI, is now reduced to competing with Switzerland for underground money. British world influence was based on the prowess of its Secret Service, which now clings to the hip of their American cousins.
In a last effort to keep its Secret Service relevant in the world's changing power structure, a few old hands attempt to destroy the web of Russia's criminal influence in Europe and Britain. A bureaucratic wall inside the Service calls the effort nothing more than chasing "whatever other modest pickings were available to justify our existence." But the old hands believe that, if Britain backs off, "the Americans (will) confirm their dismal view of this Service, this government and this country."
Our Kind of Traitor is a story of the final slide of Britain into an irrelevant power entangled in unholy webs in a changed world, just another powerless country in Europe. Like all of his novels, the pace is slow and the story subtle, but the final story raises it to one of his best novels: a clear story of political reality. There are no idealists, but there are innocent people drawn by ego and a caring love of innocent children. There is less moral ambiguity encountered in the pursuit of evil and more bureaucrats concerned with avoiding confrontation and maintaining their power base within the government. Le Carre's irony now seems to revolve around Britain's avoidance of the good fight (which becomes the moral ambiguity) and the cause of its slide into irrelevance.
The novel has a feel as if it is the last chapter of both Britain and le Carre, as if David Cornwell may want to rest his voice. We heard Sinatra at age 75 in his final performance at the Golden Nugget, his voice strained and flat. But Cornwell insists that, as he approaches his 80th birthday, he can still hit the high notes.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
will continue to read his books.
Completely boring story without thrills or intrigue.
Couldn't wait to finish, and was even more disbelieving by the slow, plodding, unending.