John Le Carré George Smiley novels, how do I love thee? I can count the ways. The writing, the characters, the plot, the locations, the dialogue, the relationships. Wow. If you haven’t read any of these, read one now. NOW!
Smiley’s People is the third in the series featuring George Smiley and the Soviet spymaster Karla. While it comes after events of The Honourable Schoolboy, in its setting, tone and cast of characters it is more of a companion piece to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
It is some years after the events of that novel, and George has once again gone into retirement, living a monk’s life in the marital home that his wife has once again abandoned. A Russian émigré and ex-source is found dead on Hampstead Heath, apparently the victim of a Soviet assassination, and the enigmatic and remote Smiley is drawn back into the ‘Circus’ to tie up any embarrassing loose ends that might arise from the murder investigation. I don’t want to say anything more than that in case I give something away.
This was another audiobook to get my through marathon training, and Michael Jayston does a wonderful job. My only complaint has nothing to do with his excellent read, and everything to do with the tears of joy-inducing quality of Le Carré’s prose. His descriptions of Smiley, the way his glasses and raincoat can impart his state of mind, bear re-reading and dwelling over in a way that isn’t possible with an audiobook. I’ve promised myself that my first book of 2014 will be reading this with my own eyes. It’s BRILLIANT!