Silverview by John le Carré

ARRSE Rating
5.00 star(s)
The last full novel written by le Carré prior to his death and I am afraid that it shows. This is a good story nonetheless, harking back to the days of Smiley in his mole-hunting days.

This story is about people who had been involved with the Service but are either retired, or about to. There is a leak somewhere and some very well respected people are suspected. An innocent man is used to pass messages and is the lynch pin of the story.

However, the characters that le Carré has used are nowhere near as detailed and full as he would have done in his early days of writing. There are characters flitting in and out with no real impact on the story and indeed with some doubt as to whether they should be in the story at all. There are however a group of central characters to make the story

Proctor – the mole hunter, long time in the Service, a bit miffed that he has been passed over.
Julian Lawndsley – a new man in town, a former financial wizard from the City who having become a bit burned out, sets up an quality bookshop in the seaside town.
Mary - a secretive lady who appears briefly to accept a message, but is central to parts of the plot
Edward – a Polish émigré who is married to Celia who in turn was a former star employee of the Service. They live in the large local mansion known as Silverview, thus giving the book its title.
Various Service personnel
Various local town people

The story is of Proctor being tasked with finding the leak and stopping at. The tale though is told, mainly, through Julian, the antique bookshop owner.

It is quite a slim book, just 200 pages, which again I feel is down to JlC reaching the end of his days. There is huge scope for the characters to have been fleshed out and indeed the story to have been a bit more complicated rather than quite straightforward. You won’t need to go far in to the book to work out who the leak is.

OK, that is the negative bits out of the way. This book is a classic JlC story complete with the craftwork of that peculiar occupation of spying. It is well written in that it is an easy read and easy to follow, again not really like le Carré’s style. I enjoyed it and am saddened that this is the last full novel from the great author and storyteller, but as this si said several times in the publicity maybe there are several unfinished books which can be taken to their end by a new author and maybe some short stories available. I do hope so.

The book really is a 3.5 Mr MRH but as this is the last story we will get from John I think I will give it the full 5 for old times sake. If you are a fan of this great author then please get a copy just to close an era.

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War Hero
Thanks for the review AY, I'm just getting towards the end of the audiobook version of Silverview.

Agree with a lot of what you say, the first half meanders along with not very much of the Smiley style but then it becomes an espionage story more in the le Carre vein. I won't spoil the end and not just because I don't know what it is yet!

Sad at the passing of a man whose earlier books were integral to perceptions of the Cold War, but to be honest his recent works have disappointed and far too marked by his anti-American, pro-EU, and anti-Brexit views which have, for me at least, tarnished his legacy.

I'd give it 3/5.

(For info the Audible version is narrated by Toby Jones who is clear and entertaining but unfortunately his voice is of a certain style and not really fitting to 30-something ex-yuppy Julian).
Thank you for the careful review there @Auld-Yin There is so much of what we came to JLC for in the book, but so much it could have been.

I'd like to mention a reservation I have, but it would spoil this and Agent Running in the Field.

Sadly though, the master has gone and left the yardstick by which espionage novels are judged.

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