qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

Second Best

Book Review: The Tailor of Panama, by John Le Carré
This is an entertaining enough read, I suppose, but I will admit to some disappointment. Having read Our Man in Havana a while ago, I wanted to compare these two. The difficulty I have with the Le Carré is that it is such an obvious clone, without much attempt to be different. True, there are fewer nuns, and the characters' motives are exposed in more depth for us all the way back to HQ in London (and this was written some years before the WMD and dodgy dossier debacles in Iraq). Pendel is an ex-pat and ex-con who is broke; Osnard is a spy who is greedy, amoral, and doesn't care to check out his sources; his masters in London want some action. So everyone is ready to believe what they are told by Harry, who tries to please people by giving them what he thinks they want to hear, using his somewhat active imagination. In the post-Eco world, the plan that pulls itself up by its own bootstraps has been overdone. The film is better than the book, perhaps because it exaggerates the comic aspects of the characters; Greene is better than either. Le Carré is better when he is being original.
Tags: books
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