Absolute Friends - Le Carré

Given how much I enjoyed Smiley's People, Caroline bought me this for my birthday. So, how does a post-Cold-War Le Carré compare? Pretty well. It's not in the same league as Smiley's People, but it's far better than The Honorable Schoolboy, even if it is far closer to the second in content. The majority of the book is an elegy for the Cold War spy, here in the form of Ted Mundy and his Eastern European counterpart Sasha. The book plots Mundy's ramshackle life (successful at nothing much but unrewarding spying career) through to the disintegration of the old order at the end of the Cold War. That much is pretty classic Le Carré, rather less dense than his other work, but made up for with a wonderfully solid portrait of Mundy's life, successes and failures. The last part, hinted at through-out, is pure venom at the War on Terror and invasion of Iraq. Sadly, it is where his anger kicks in that the characters are least convincing, and the plot least plausible. The ending is not subtle, and slightly disappointing, but pretty effective at getting his views across.

Posted 2007-01-02.