‘Single & Single’, by John le Carre.Simon & Schuster 1999


Was always a fan of le Carre and continue, like many others, to marvel at the way he survived the ending of the Cold War, that is to say, the ending of the scenarios for much of his earlier work. In retrospect it was foolish to think that his inspiration would dry up just because there was now no Soviet Union to ensure an abundant supply of ‘moles’ and ‘spooks’. He just shifted gear a little so that he could produce  books like ‘Single & Single’, ‘The Russia House’ and so many more. His characters continue to be rather more (or less) than he allows to meet the reader’s eye until he judges the time is right for revelation. And the sheer fanaticism of his ‘Intelligence’ investigators has not diminished: Brock (in this novel) echoes his old Cold War counterpart Smiley. I never liked novels with lacunae of fulsome poetic description. I like this direct, taut writing and startling turns of plot. A vast population of characters. And an opening chapter that hauls you bodily into the story. Recommended.

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