After panning Prior Bad Acts and Adept, I needed to read a good book. I found it in John le Carré‘s classic cold war spy novel, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
George Smiley, quiet, unassuming, pudgy, and easily overlooked, is recently retired from the Service (MI6, the British intelligence agency). He is secretly tasked with finding a mole in the highest reaches of the Service, run by Karla, a KGB spymaster. The mole can only be one of the four most senior men. Smiley begins piecing together the evidence from stolen files, interrogating former colleagues, and re-examining his own past.
This is not at all the typical spy novel, full of fast-paced car chases and shootouts. The book is subtle, cerebral, and character-driven, with little action. Smiley may not be capable of running across the street, but he can certainly run a sting operation.
Le Carré masterfully weaves a web of deceit and intrigue, which enmeshes the reader. He depicts a world of moral ambiguity, painted in shades of gray, where motives are murky.