A Delicate Truth – John Le Carre

This is a story of power and corruption, set in the time of the last Labor government in the UK and the War on Terror. A joint operation between official British forces and mercenary USA forces in Gibraltar goes badly wrong. The path to the operation and the cover-up are exposed, slowly and beautifully, by a writer at the top of his profession. It’s a painful tale, exquisitely told.

Le Carre is able to create a three dimensional character with just a line or two of taut text. He easily and comprehensively paints a portrait of troubled emotions with the same efficiency. Similarly, he gives an insight to the world of the civil servant that oozes authenticity, and an all too British flavor to certain ridiculous aspects of it all. Finally, the political background – complete with sharp observations on it – is well done without becoming overbearing. We know what side of the fence the author stands and he doesn’t ram it down his readers’ throats.

If there is a criticism I would level at the book, it is the sense that the ending is rushed. It’s almost as if he was writing to a specified length, and had to wrap the story up in a compressed manner. Despite that, the overwhelming impression was favorable.

This is a book populated by real people with real motives, real emotions, and real problems. Not all of them are easily or peacefully solved. This is a book to be savored; do not skip any of it!

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