John le Carre’s classic novels deftly navigate readers through the intricate shadow worlds of international espionage with unsurpassed skill and knowledge and have earned him — and his hero, British Secret Service agent George Smiley — unprecedented worldwide acclaim.Rounding off his astonishing vision of a clandestine world, master storyteller le Carre perfects his art in “Smiley’s People.”
In London at dead of night, George Smiley, sometime acting Chief of the Circus (aka the British Secret Service), is summoned from his lonely bed by news of the murder of an ex-agent. Lured back to active service, Smiley skillfully maneuvers his people — “the no-men of no-man’s land” — into crisscrossing Paris, London, Germany, and Switzerland as he prepares for his own final, inevitable duel on the Berlin border with his Soviet counterpart and archenemy, Karla.
Once again Smiley is called back to deal with old spies and old secrets others have long since forgotten, and this time he’s in a hurry. Within a few weeks George Smiley will face his old nemesis, Karla, and play his last hand in their twenty year card game.
That’s where the title of the Finnish translation comes from: Värisuora = straight flush.
I felt like le Carré tried to recreate Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in Smiley’s People. All the things I so very much disliked about The Honourable Schoolboy were absent and I could once again lose myself in the marvellous mind and machinations of the old, round, and bespectacled spy.
Unfortunately, a recreation can never truly surpass its original and for longest periods I was simply bored. If I were merely comparing this to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, well, let’s just say that the rating would sink like a cow’s tail, but I’m not. The last hundred pages of this book more than earned their stars. The last two pages and the resolution for Smiley’s personal relationship might have even earned an extra one all by themselves.
I love the way le Carré writes. It’s as simple as that.