- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 14 hours and 23 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd.
- Audible.com Release Date: November 19, 2010
- Language: English
- ASIN: B005AJFHHW
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Smiley's People: The Karla Trilogy, Book 3
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Top Customer Reviews
As the story opens, a former agent of the British Secret Service is found horribly murdered outside London, after making contact with his old employers. George Smiley, once head of the Secret Service, is summoned out of an unhappy retirement to make sense of the mess. What he discovers is a secret so important to an old adversary that it was worth killing for.
With official license renewed, the patient Smiley follows a faint trail of clues across Europe and his own history in the Cold War. He will call upon old friends and comrades for information and assistance, while trolling the sad wreckage of his own personal life. At the end of the trail may be the opportunity for the supreme act of professional revenge on a Russian spy master, or a deadly ambush...
LeCarre has a unique writing style, intermingled with a cynical take on the espionage business, that requires close attention from the reader. His hero, George Smiley, is almost the antithesis of the James Bond stereotype. However, the patient reader may find that George Smiley's own considerable gifts for his craft can make for a very compelling story. "Smiley's People" is very highly recommended to fans of espionage novels in general and those of John LeCarre in particular.
To some extent, it's a waste of time reviewing the third book in a trilogy. If you haven't read them, you should really read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Honourable Schoolboy before even thinking about this book. If you have, and liked them, you want to know how the story ends and you'll read Smiley's People regardless of the reviews. If you didn't like them, then even glowing reviews probably won't be enough to get you across the finish line. For the few people on the fence, here's my two cents.
Le Carre' is an undisputed master of the spy novel and in many respects he's on the top of his game here. Of the three books in the trilogy, this was by far the easiest and most straightforward to read. It's the only one that uses a classic third party narrator perspective and the story is relatively simple (for a spy novel). I found the story and many of the characters interesting. It moves along at a steady pace and there was a sufficient sense of menace to feel some tension even if the stakes aren't as high as some of the other stories.
On the negative side, George and his dithering about a wife who cheats on him constantly has gotten a bit tiresome for me. And the ending seemed contrived to show us that George's life has lost all meaning both personally and professionally. This was not exactly satisfying to me after investing about 1300 pages or on the character. I would also warn readers that Le Carre' gives away the ending in the Introduction to the book... a truly foolish thing to do no matter how long it's been in print.
All in all, I recommend this book. If you've read the first two books and enjoyed them then it's worth finishing. It's also easier to read than the first two so if you've struggled with that at all, you can take heart.