Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

A spy novel by John le Carré.

John le Carré

The man he knew as "Control" is dead, and the young Turks who forced him out now run the Circus. But George Smiley isn't quite ready for retirement — especially when a pretty, would-be defector surfaces with a shocking accusation: a Soviet mole has penetrated the highest level of British Intelligence. Relying only on his wits and a small, loyal cadre, Smiley traces the breach back to Karla — his Moscow Centre nemesis — and sets a trap to catch the traitor. (From Penguin Canada)

Excerpt | Author interview

From the book

The truth is, if old Major Dover hadn't dropped dead at Taunton races Jim would never have come to Thursgood's at all. He came in mid-term without an interview — late May, it was, though no one would have thought it from the weather — employed through one of the shiftier agencies specialising in supply teachers for prep schools, to hold down old Dover's teaching till someone suitable could be found. "A linguist," Thursgood told the common-room, "a temporary measure," and brushed away his forelock in self-defence. "Priddo." He gave the spelling, "P-r-i-d" — French was not Thursgood's subject so he consulted the slip of paper — "e-au-x, first name James. I think he'll do us very well till July." The staff had no difficulty in reading the signals. Jim Prideaux was a poor white of the teaching community. He belonged to the same sad bunch as the late Mrs. Loveday, who had a Persian-lamb coat and stood in for junior divinity until her chques bounced, or the late Mr. Maltby, the pianist who had been called from choir practice to help the police with their enquiries, and as far as anyone knew was helping them to this day, for Maltby's trunk still lay in teh cellar awaiting instructions. Several of the staff, but chiefly Majoribanks, were in favour of opening that trunk. They said it contained notorious missing treasures: Aprahamian's silver-framed picture of his Lebanese mother, for instance; Best-Ingram's Swiss army penknife and Matron's watch. But Thursgood set his creaseless face resolutely against their entreaties. Only five years had passed since he had taught hima lready that some things are best locked away.

From Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carré ©1989. Published by Penguin Canada.

Author interview

More than fifty years after his breakthrough novel, “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold,” John le Carré is as much in the news as ever—with a new biography and more movie adaptations. Eleanor speaks with le Carré about his 23rd novel, "A Delicate Truth."