TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY

But "What's the access?" Of course the Le Carre name, and the Book-of-the-Month Club selection, and the special language (of which that term is an example) and the "tradecraft" (another) along with his technical command of his material which differentiates this book in a genre where familiarity breeds — and breeds. But "what's the access" may be a very real grievance on the part of the impatient or indolent reader. For a long time — most of the book in fact — one seems to be running in place while circling with the members of a group called the Circus through various dispositions, defections, and connections. Uncertainty is everywhere — theirs and yours — there seems to be a mole (moles are deep penetration agents) within the Circus accountable for just what? The death of Control? The fact that Jim Prideaux now seems to be put out of the way (he'd been shot in the back — who shot him in the back?) in a boys' school where a podgy youngster becomes a dangerous embarrassment by watching him too devotedly? Or what of George Smiley, "deceived in love and hate alike," is he through? Is his lovely wife Ann through with him? Or particularly Bill Haydon, who'd been head of the London Station, who'd shared Ann with Smiley, and who was a romantic residual of the past in which they'd all participated but now seem to have lost — Bill who had been "ubiquitous, heroic and charming, like Lawrence"? It's very intricate — all these associations, reverses, betrayals. But this is unmistakably Le Carre country — be it only the sense of spiritual loss, more than the megrims of middle age and the combat fatigue of survival. There is that chilly interior climate of those who have fought the good fight only to end up, sullied and disenchanted, losing a private war. . . A dirty, dodgy business this — and no one seems to know it better than Le Carre or can endow it with that special, covert, inductive fascination. We have no other thinking man's world of intelligence.

Pub Date: June 1, 1974

ISBN: 0143119788

Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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