qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

Shades of Grey

Book Review: A Small Town in Germany, by John le Carré
I acquired this second-hand by mistake, as it isn't actually one of the early Smiley novels, which I have been (re-)reading in preparation for a (re-)read of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. However I decided the time was right, and it fitted the bill well. I know I've started this one before, many years ago; I can't remember whether I finished it. It is the late 1960s; a member of staff in the British embassy in Bonn has gone missing, as have a number of files, and Alan Turner is sent from the Foreign Office to investigate. He's rather less cultured and more confrontational than Smiley; an outsider to whom no-one feels the need to be welcoming. The embassy staff carry themselves very much in the manner of Carry on up the Khyber, regarding the unrest in West German cities as an inconvenience. Their primary focus is on not rocking the boat in the negotiations for British entry into the EEC. Unlike an Agatha Christie novel, the protagonists are not blessed with precognition, and therefore the twists unveil themselves to the characters and the reader at the same pace. Only the absolute ending is perhaps predictable; le Carré delights in finding an area which is morally neither white nor black, where all the solutions are wrong. This suited my mood of late.
Tags: books
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