About Me

Tollesbury, Essex, United Kingdom
I was born in the Summer of 1969 in Dagenham, just on the border of East London. School was largely unproductive but enjoyable, setting me up for something of a wayward but interesting life! On leaving school I had various jobs including putting up stalls at Romford Market, working in a record shop, putting up ceilings, gardening and road sweeping. After resigning from an insurance company to play in a band, I found myself unemployed for two years. Then finally I got back on my feet and I've been a psychiatric nurse since 1997. I wrote A Cleansing of Souls when I was 22 years old and followed it up with Tollesbury Time Forever almost twenty years later. I started writing The Bird That Nobody Sees in September 2011 and it was released in July 2012. In terms of writing, my heroes are Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck. I would also include Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits as literary influences. So that's me I guess - scruffy, happy and in love with literary fiction, music and life...

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

A Review of Our Kind of Traitor by John Le Carre

Our Kind of Traitor is John Le Carre's latest novel. I am a huge fan of his writing and rate some of his novels - The Honourable Schoolboy and The Little Drummer Girl in particular - as some of the finest I have read. To my mind his last few - Mission Song and A Most Wanted Man have been a little less effective as they have lacked the broader scope of the majority of his other novels concentrating instead on the minute details of very particular operations. Of course the prose has always been magnificent and that typically english mixture of cynicism and patriotism spot on. Our Kind of Traitor is very much in the mould of A Most Wanted Man but I found it both more enjoyable and exciting.

The novel follows a pair of fairly hapless British tourists, Perry and Gail, who make the acquaintence of a potential Russian defector, Dima, whilst on holiday. They think nothing of it until Dima informs Perry that he has information that would be prized by the British Secret Service and he wishes to barter that information in exchange for the resettlement of himself and his family in England.

The first half of the novel sets up the characters and the agendas at work and the second half deals with the attempts to bring Dima and his family to Britain - no easy task considering the implications on both high ranking British government and city officials who stand to lose greatly were the extraction to be successful.

Gail and Perry are drawn into the plans at Dima's insistence and they bring a very human side to what is essentially a study in the machinations of government, intercontinental commerce and the criminal underworld in Russia. John Le Carre does a wonderful job in fusing the innocence and the experience here and shows himself as always to be so much more than a thriller/espionage writer. And the ending? Fantastic!

I regard this as definitely John Le Carre's best novel since The Constant Gardener and highly recommend it.


Bill said...

That is one of le Carre's novels that I haven't read. I've enjoyed pretty well all of his stories, with the exception of The Little Drummer Girl. The Constant Gardener is one of my favourites. Of late, I've begun reading his earliest novels and finding them quite interesting. Thanks for the review; it's one I've been thinking of getting.

Stu Ayris said...

Hi Bill. Thanks for your comments! I saw the Richard Burton version of The Spy Who Came in From The Cold not long ago for the first time. Wonderful.