Monday, 18 January 2010
The Honourable Schoolboy by John Le Carré
DATE READ: January 2010
NOTES: This book follows Tinker, Tailor Soldier Spy. George Smiley is in charge of a demoralised secret service. Karla from Moscow Central sent Bill Haydon as a mole and caused serious damage to the British organisation. The main area of activity is now the Far East – Smiley is convinced that Karla has something serious going on and sends The Honourable Gerald Westerby to Hong Kong to work ostensibly as a newspaper reporter but at the same time to find out what Chinese businessman Drake Ho is up to.
Le Carré lets the plot unfold in its own time and gives us insights into the workings of the organisation, the difficult relations with the Americans and the general air of unease and betrayal that hangs over everyone. When he describes interrogations he gives these time to develop and may write pages of questions and answers before the interrogator gradually gets hold of the information desired. A lesser writer would probable feel the needed to speed up the process for fear of the reader losing interest.
Westerby, a romantic and somewhat naïve hero, moves from Hong Kong to Thailand to Cambodia and to Laos – always using his wits and charm to bluff his way into the confidence of others. Along the way he falls in love……which could be his undoing.
As you would expect the plotting is complex and there are many characters introduced but it is an excellent read about a hard and cynical world.