John LeCarre’s A Delicate Truth is pure delight. I haven’t enjoyed a novel of his this much since The Little Drummer Girl, my LeCarre favourite. Though, mind you, all LeCarre’s novels are either very good or excellent.
The subtlety of the characters and the multi-layered plot make this a great read. LeCarre is a master at combining the spy world with interesting psychological portraits of people. I also enjoy the social and political comment. Normally, I don’t go for the whistle-blower theme, but this novel is just so satisfying, from the very beginning to the last page.
When I read the blurb for Sweet Tooth, the latest novel by Ian McEwan, I immediately thought that combining MI5 and spying with literature and fiction-writing had to be a perfect mix. And I was not wrong.
I do like Ian McEwan very much, though sometimes his extremely well-crafted style strikes me as a bit too polished. His characterisation is outstanding – also in this novel – but I think what this novel adds is this post-modern, meta-fictional, reader-response-type twist at the end of the novel. Pure delight.
If you’re looking for tense spy fiction, this is not it. You kind of get that almost from the first page. But if you’re looking for an intriguing story that draws you in, where you’re never really sure where you’re heading, then this is a good bet. And as I said, the last chapter is pure delight.