22nd January 2023
This is John le Carré’s first Smiley novel, published in the early 1960s, and setting up a series that would continue for 56 years yet only contain 9 novels.
Smiley is a burnt-out member of the Security Service, having served pre-war, during WW2, and post-war. He’s just doing routine things, when something goes wrong.
Amongst other things, it’s a fascinating glance back in time - at surface level to pre-decimal coinage, and deeper into plot-affecting elements like the lack of constant mobile communication.
But it’s also a great mystery story, and an interesting first look at a character who feels like he shouldn’t be compelling, but nonetheless is.