Tim Cranmer spent his adult years supervising Britain’s shadow war against the minions of the nation formerly known as the Soviet Socialist Republics. With the end of the Cold War, however, Cranmer is viewed as an ideological dinosaur and summarily dismissed. Fortunately, Cranmer’s financial resources were ample, and a young mistress named Emma satisfied his emotional needs.
Still, the concept of good is inevitably balanced by its opposite. Thus, Cranmer’s comfortable retirement has its dark side in Larry Pettifer. Pettifer, a double agent previously employed against the Soviet Union at Cranmer’s behest, is also deemed superfluous. More important, Pettifer is ensconced in a community a mere twenty miles from Cranmer’s country home and is inclined to visit frequently.
Although it is not the best of situations, Cranmer believes he can survive until he discovers that Pettifer has absconded with Emma and several millions of ill-gotten gains. Not only that, Cranmer’s former colleagues are convinced that he is an integral part of the scam. If Cranmer does not move quickly, he stands to lose his freedom and his mistress. Cranmer determines to take to the field and find Pettifer, Emma, and the money. Cranmer’s voyage of discovery takes him to Paris, Moscow, and the heart of the Caucasus.
John le Carre’s reputation in this genre is hard-won and well deserved. Those who enjoyed his work in the past will be rewarded anew. Admittedly, his rather cavalier movement between the temporal past and present is rather abrupt. The slightest bit of inattention by the reader will produce considerable short term confusion. Still, even this criticism may be a matter of individual taste.
Sources for Further Study
The Christian Science Monitor. March 16, 1995, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. March 26, 1995, p. 2.
The New York Review of Books. XLII, April 20, 1995, p. 4.
The New York Times Book Review. C, March 26, 1995, p. 13.
The New Yorker. LXXI, March 20, 1995, p. 102.
Newsweek. CXXV, March 6, 1995, p. 67.
Publishers Weekly. CCXLII, February 6, 1995, p. 76.
Time. CXLV, March 20, 1995, p. 76.
The Times Literary Supplement. May 12, 1995, p. 19.
The Wall Street Journal. March 3, 1995, p. A8.
The Washington Post Book World. XXV, February 26, 1995, p. 1.