Thursday, March 5, 2009

Our Game by John LeCarre

"Let me tell you a few things about myself. Not much, but enough. In the old days it was convenient to bill me as a spy turned writer. I was nothing of the kind. I am a writer who, when I was very young, spent a few ineffectual but extremely formative years in British Intelligence."
--John le Carre, from his website

I had the unique pleasure of reading for the first time a John le Carre novel, Our Game. I picked it out of a bin of throwaway paperbacks, thinking it would be a trashy, page-turning, throwaway novel. I expected a few hours of forgettable reading to help me forget that I was on a twelve hour plane ride to New Zealand.

This book was not forgettable. And it introduced me to a new (to me) fiction writer who I look forward to reading again and again.

Everyone compares these books to the action-packed spy novels of Ian Fleming, but the two are so different that the very comparison itself is misleading. Ian Fleming is flash, drama, excitement, and of course, narcissism. John le Carre's works are psychological thrillers.

Our Game centers on the life of an aging former intelligence man, Timothy Cramner, who is trying to enjoy retirement, a new girlfriend, and a new life in the country. But when one of his old double agents drops back into his life, and then disappears again with a large sum of government money, Cramner finds himself back into "the game" one last time, grappling not only with his age and the fundamental emptiness of his day-to-day life, but with the possibly treasonous actions of his former agent.

John le Carre is thought of as a master of the "intelligent" spy thriller genre, a genre I never knew existed until I randomly picked up one of his books out of a box. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.

Suggested reading list from Our Game:
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le Carre
The Russia House: A Novel by John le Carre
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre
Call for the Dead by John le Carre
Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
Quantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories by Ian Fleming
On Her Majesty's Secret Service by Ian Fleming

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