Sunday, 28 August 2011

"Our Kind of Traitor" by John le Carre

Year of Publication: 2010
Number of Pages: 306 pages
Genre: Thriller, espionage, crime

Summary: Young English couple Perry Makepiece and Gail Perkins are taking an off-peak holiday on the Caribbean island of Antigua, where they intend to spend their time relaxing and playing tennis. They meet an eccentric, wealthy Russian man named Dima and his large family. Dima challenges Perry to a game of tennis, and the couple end up becoming unwillingly attached to the family.
It turns out that Dima is a reknowned money launderer and is very high up in the Russian underworld. He is part of an extensive and complex multi-national criminal plot, but has become disillusioned following the suspicious death of his closest friend and associate. Knowing that time is running out for him, Dima plans to defect to Britain using his knowledge of the criminal syndicate and their plot as leverage. He wants Perry to broker the deal for him with the British intelligence services. Soon Perry and Gail find themselves drawn into a deadly game played between ruthless spies and a vast and murderous crime empire.

Opinions: British thriller author John le Carre first made his name with powerful and intelligent depictions of Cold War espionage such as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1962) and Tinker Tailor Solider Spy (1974) in which the realism was in part due to the fact that le Carre himself was a spy for several years. More recently he has turned his gaze to more topical global problems and, with this novel, he focuses in on the banking and financial crisis.
There is plenty of anger here and, as usual, great sympathy towards the unfortunate individuals left twisting in the wind, at the mercy of ruthless and brutal powers on both sides.
The story moves well and there is plenty of suspense and action. Le Carre also has a natural ear for dialogue and a gift for characterisation, as well as a strong eye for detail. Powerful, disturbing and thrilling, this is a must read for thriller fans.

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