James Grady remembers the master of human intrigue, foibles, ideals and cruelty
I have old copies of only "Spy Who Came In From The Cold" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy". I have no adequate explanation for why I have never delved deeper into Le Carré’s other novels, an oversight that I will address immediately. Thank you James for these memories and the push I needed.
I was struck by Mr. Grady's wonderous description of John Le Carré's insight. "Yes, Le Carré's fictions are thrilling and yes, they reveal mysteries, and yes, they exist in our noir world where the lines between heroes and villains are blurred. But Le Carré was far more than a genre fiction author, he was a geographer of the human soul."
A bit of confusion in Mr. Grady's otherwise fine appreciation. He writes, "His third novel, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, became his breakout hit amid conspiracy theories swirling around Kennedy’s murder in Dallas...Critics sometimes call it a sequel to Le Carré's first two novels, in which the rumpled counterspy George Smiley steps into the role of the prime antagonist pitted against the Soviet mole in MI6, Bill Haydon (modeled on the real-life spy Kim Philby) and Moscow Centre's Karla , beginning with the wondrous novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy." Actually his first two novels were "Call for the Dead" (1961) and "A Murder of Quality" (1962). They were both more conventional mysteries rather than spy tales, although Smiley is the protagonist. "Spy Who Came in from the Cold," in which Smiley has a minor role, came out in 1963. "Tinker Tailor" and "Smiley's People" (1974 and 1979) feature Smiley well after demise of Alec Leamas on the Berlin Wall. They are the sequels to "Spy Who Came in from the Cold," not the other way around as Mr. Grad seems to indicate.