"The Honourable Schoolboy" is my first John Le Carre novel. It immediately brought to mind Graham Greene's, "The Quiet American" and the British miniseries, 'The Sandbaggers', by Yorkshire Television or Channel 4, starring a subdued and laconic Roy Marsden. No James Bond in sight!
Like another English novelist who I recall, John Fowles; Le Carre must certainly be forgiven for his occasional minor literary flaws for the fact that his overall observational skills and plot development are exceptional. I'm not a spy novel enthusiast, per se, but the lives of George Smiley, his Circus and Whitehall associates, the ambivalent Jerry Westerby, Liesa, Drake & Nelson Ko, Luke, ... are depicted in a way that makes the reader care about their fate. The climax in Hong Kong is exceptional.