John le Carré
A Delicate Truth
Viking 2013, 310 pages
I have to admit that while reading the latest work by the master of spy novels, I developed a sort of nostalgia for the good old days. Maybe for my own youth, when the world still seemed to hold potential and the ability to surprise, for those first John le Carré novels pulled down from my father’s bookshelf, when spies were old school, everything had to be done by hand, with no Internet and it was clear who the enemy was. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and the Smiley Novels must have been among the ones I read right around the age of twenty. But, as always, this one is quite current concerning its theme.
Here the description from the book cover:
A counter-terror operation, codenamed Wildlife, is being mounted in Britain’s most precious colony, Gibraltar. Its purpose: to capture and abduct a high-value jihadist arms-buyer. Its authors: an ambitious Foreign Office Minister, and a private defense contractor who is also his close friend. So delicate is the operation that even the Minister’s Private Secretary, Toby Bell, is not cleared for it.
Suspecting a disastrous conspiracy, Toby attempts to forestall it, but is promptly posted overseas. Three years on, summoned by Sir Christopher Probyn, retired British diplomat, to his decaying Cornish manor house, and closely watched by Probyn’s daughter Emily, Toby must choose between his conscience and his duty to the Service.
If the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing, how can he keep silent?