John le Carré's classic novels deftly navigate readers through the intricate shadow worlds of international espionage with unsurpassed skill and knowledge, and have earned him -- and his hero, British Secret Service Agent George Smiley -- unprecedented worldwide acclaim.
In The Honourable Schoolboy, George Smiley is made ring leader of the Circus (the British Secret Service) in the wake of a demoralizing infiltration by a Soviet double agent. Devising a counterattack, Smiley thrusts his...read more
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful: LeCarre, The Thinking Man's Spy Master!, July 31, 2003 Reviewer: Barron Laycock (Labradorman) from Temple, New Hampshire United States Like most of the best-selling works that come from the unchallenged master of the intelligent spy thriller John LeCarre, this is a fictional but absorbing treatise on the hidden and conflicted corners of the human heart, the many ways in which our own natures feed into and extend the darker impulse of a society bent on pursuing the secrets and treachery that ever lurks for the unsuspecting victim. Here, in the second of three best-selling novels tracing the pilgrim's progress of George Smiley, the intrepid and unlikely hero of the post-industrial Western world, LeCarre continues his marvelously convoluted narrative tracing the continuing history of the Smiley chronicles, a three volume spy novel treatise detailing the perfidy and treachery of the world of British intelligence. In "The Honourable Schoolboy", the instrument of Smiley's revenge against the legendary Karla, the Chief of the Soviet espionage effort, is one Jerry Westerby, a man who comprises such an amalgam of honor, evil, and rage that he is perhaps one of the most complex and yet completely believable characters to pop from LeCarre's fertile mind. Westerby is the old hand in the Far East, Smiley's eyes and ears, and the man George has placed to push the first domino spinning toward the eventual collapse of all the others in the vast Soviet spy network. Smiley is spinning the network in the aftermath of the uncovering of a Soviet mole deep within the Circus, the code name within the trade for the center of British Intelligence. As he probes the various aspects of the British network to discover the loci of damage and infiltration, Smiley picks the point of entry as Hong Kong, and no one is better suited to Smiley's complex undertaking that Jerry, a complicated, immensely intelligent, and yet absolutely dangerous and committed cold warrior who can be counted on to go the extra mile for the team and for Britian and the Queen. The plot is ingenious, intricate, and horrific in its human toll, played out against a landscape of the far-flung persons and places of the former British Empire. With Westerby, the 'honourable school boy' of the title, we embark on a cautious yet beautifully choreographed adventure into the heart of darkness of ourselves, and we shouldn't be surprised to find some scar tissue and broken bones as we descend deeper into the tortuous caverns we keep hidden in our subconscious realms. LeCarre is nothing if not a superb chronicler of the ways in which our own natures become a battle ground for the struggle between good and evil, the good we can be for others, and the evil we do to them and ourselves by subscribing to ideologies, almost any ideology, that finally forces us to choose between our values and our duty. This is a marvelous book, an entertaining read, and a stunning example of the sophistication, complexity, and sheer intelligence of the author in detailing the subterranean world of international espionage. Enjoy!