In Part 1 I took a look at some of John Le Carre’s work in the 1960’s, and how he gained both the interest of the reader and also the theater goer. In Part 2 I took you into the Le Carre of the 1970’s, and in particular the zenith of his main character George Smiley. Part 3 explored the 1980’s and his divergent style.

The 90’s began with the release of The Secret Pilgrim which in a way reintroduced us to the 1970’s main character George Smiley. The story is told by Ned who was one of Smiley’s students at the Circus’s training school Sarrat. It is through Ned’s narrations that we begin to form a picture of the master of espionage George Smiley. The Secret Pilgrim was not optioned for TV or a movie, but that is not surprising. Once again we have a highly introspective work that likely would not translate well.

The Night Manager was published in 1993, and once again le Carre took us in a different direction. It is not so much a spy themed novel, but rather one that looks at the world of money laundering. I am somewhat surprised that this one did not make it to the silver screen, money laundering and arms traffiking is a subject that has garnered much press interest.

Jonathan Pine is a former British soldier eho has found a new career as the night auditor for a luxurious hotel. Pine meets Sophie, a French-Arab woman who has ties to Richard Onslow Roper, Roper has made a fortune in the arms world. Much if it on the more black than white market. The British government would very much like to curtail Onslow’s lucrative bussiness, and it is just possible that Pine might be the tool.

1995 saw Our Game enter the top ten best seller list. The protagonists in this story involve Dr. Larry Pettifer a professor at Bath University and Tim Cranmer, a retired Treasury employee. Whenever you see the word Treasury mentioned in a Le Carre novel, think Secret Service. It transpires that both were involved in the spy game during the Cold War. Pettifer was a spy on the ground, and Cranmer as his handler. Pettifer has gone missing, and also missing is some $70 million in Russian funds. Has Pettifer gone ‘Native’?

1996 heralded the arival of The Tailor Of Panama. This book was immediatly optioned for a movie, but it was not until 2001 that it was actually released. Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush and Jamie Lee Curtis  hold the starring roles.

Andy Osnard (Pierce Brosnan) is a member of the illustrious British MI6 but has found himself out of favor following an afair with an ambassador’s mistress. Osnard beleives that if he can produce some great intelligence from Panama, he can once more buy his way into the good graces of London, and a more palatable posting. Harry Pendel (Geoffrey Rush) seems to be his ticket home. Pendal is a tailor to the rich and influential in Panama, and privy to the juicy gosip that goes on in the fitting room. Even better, Pendal is broke, his lavish lifestyle is a mere facade. His need for money is dire, Osnard can not resist the bait.

Again we have a multi layered story, and as with so many Le Carre books it is hard to determine who is naughty and who is nice. Actually Le Carre tends to have very few ‘nice’ people. Everyone has an angle, everyone is in it for themselves, and very few win.

Le Carre ended the 90’s with Single & Single. Once again this one was avoided by the silver screen. This was one book that I think would have translated well to the screen, so I really am a little confused as to why it did not. Our hero, once again an anti hero is Oliver Hawthorne, a childs entertainer, and a man who has stepped away from the corporate world. Yet he finds himself drawn into having to revisit the rather ugly and murky world of his father Tiger Single, a lawyer and financier, but also a money launderer. Where do blood ties end, and the law start?

It is not too late to order any of these fine books and movies for Christmas.

We also have another decade of Le Carre to discuss, what has been up to in the 00’s? I think I will keep that for another article.

It wasn’t until I started this quest that I realized just how prolific a write John Le Carre is. I have read all of his books, some many times, I have also seen all of the movies. I am sure that someone reading these articles is going to point out that I have missed several books. Yes I have, you are correct. I started this series on a whim, and it is not designed as an encyclopedic look at this great author, it is just my thoughts. For those of you that I have lighted the Le Carre spark, also check out A Small Town in Germany
(68) and The Looking Glass War
(65).

Most of Le Carre’s books are in print, and wherever possible I have included links.

Simon Barrett

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