Our Kind of Traitor by John Le Carré (♦♦♦)
'Save England how? From what? All right, from itself. What bit of itself?’
Now it was Hector’s turn to reflect. ‘You’ll just have to take our word for it.’
‘Your Service’s word?’
‘For the time being, yes.’
‘On the strength of what? Aren’t you supposed to be the gentlemen who lie for the good of their country?’
‘That’s diplomats. We’re not gentlemen.’
‘So you lie to save your hides.’
‘That’s politicians. Different game entirely.’”
Excerpt from Our Kind of Traitor by John Le Carré, Page 120
In the Caribbean island of Antigua, Perry and Gail, two British lovers on vacation, are approached by a flamboyant Russian named Dima, self-proclaimed “number one world’s money launderer”. As Perry and Gail get entangled with Dima and his entourage, Perry feels himself sympathizing with Dima to the point of agreeing to act as a middleman between him and England’s intelligence services to negotiate the Russian and his extended family’s defection to England in exchange for valuable information concerning a criminal brotherhood with international reach of which Dima is the number one financial man.
I’ve been meaning to read anything by John Le Carré ever since I saw the movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which is based in one of his novels. Quite by chance I found this book and I bought it. I was reading a less interesting book which I left aside to start this one…Such was my anticipation! When I finished Our Kind of Traitor I felt nothing; perhaps I was waiting for the kind of thrill ride that comes with Daniel Silva’s books, reason why I’ve become a fan of the espionage genre. However, John Le Carré is not Daniel Silva, there are no globetrotting adventures, no seasoned assassins with almost supernatural skills, no learning on the side…
Our Kind of Traitor is interesting, though not exciting, yet it’s an easy, compulsive read. The advantage of Le Carré over Silva is his actual field experience; he is a former spy; thus, his novels may be closer to the kind of work a spy carries out. Another thing I didn’t like in this book, which I fear is part of Le Carré’s writing style is that he starts the story already during an interrogation instead of providing a setting for the story to develop. I hope Our Kind of Traitor is not one of Le Carré’s best novels because I want to give another one a try to see if I like it.
Overall, Our Kind of Traitor by John Le Carré is well developed but lacks thrill factor.