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Our Kind of Traitor [Hardcover]

John Le Carre
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 12 2010

Two young lovers treat themselves to a once-in-a-lifetime holiday on the Caribbean island of Antigua. He's an austere tutor at Oxford. She's a sparky rising London barrister. Their native Britain is floundering in debt. On the second day of their holiday they encounter a rich, charismatic fifty-something Russian millionaire called Dima who owns a peninsula, wears a diamond encrusted Rolex watch, has a tattoo on the knuckle of his right thumb and wants a game of tennis.

What else Dima wants is the engine that drives John le Carré’s majestic, thrilling, tragic, funny and utterly engrossing new novel of greed and corruption, from the arctic hells of the gulag archipelago to a billionaire’s yacht anchored off the Adriatic coast; to the Men’s Final of the French Open tennis championships at the Roland Garros stadium; to two murky Swiss bankers dubbed Peter and the Wolf; and finally and fatally to a Swiss alpine resort nestling in the shadow of the north face of the Eiger and the story’s terrifying end.

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Our Kind of Traitor + A Delicate Truth
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“Our Kind of Traitor, John le Carré’s bullet train of a new thriller, is part vintage John le Carré and part Alfred Hitchcock…. The suspense in Our Kind of Traitor is genuine and nerve-racking…. The result is the author’s most thrilling thriller in years.” - Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Let me be specific: I think the man deserves the Nobel.” - The Globe and Mail

“Our Kind of Traitor is a teasing, beguiling, masterly performance.” - The Sunday Times (UK)

“As the greatest spy novelist of our times John le Carré has always used as the bedrock of his craft the strange ways people are bound to each other.” - Calgary Sun

“In a world where villains can bleed tragedy and heroes may not be so heroic, le Carré is still our keenest arbiter.” - Winnipeg Free Press

“Le Carré’s mission keeps changing, but not his mastery…. If a better thriller than Our Kind of Traitor has been published this year, I’d like to see it.” - Washington Post

“With his 22nd novel, Our Kind of Traitor, John le Carré—our greatest living master of espionage fiction—definitely is back at the top of his game.” - Ottawa Citizen

“No other contemporary novelist has more durably enjoyed the twin badges of being both well read and well regarded.” - Scott Turow

“Return of the master.” - The Times (UK)

“A brilliant linguistic artist with a keen eye of the exotic and not-so-exotic locale, a crafty moralizer with an occasional bent for sentiment.” - The Wall Street Journal

“Daring… A ripping good story steeped in ugly truths.” - USA Today

“Le Carré, always an intriguing blend of patrician and populist, gives voice to all our contempt for hot-money deals.” - Independent (UK)

“[A] compelling tale of deceit, dialogue and the author’s own despair.” - The Telegraph (UK)

“I would suggest immortality for John le Carré…. May he write forever!” - Chicago Tribune

“Le Carré spins a characteristically taut, uneasy tale…. [Our Kind of Traitor] unfolds, in customary le Carré style, with a growing sense of foreboding to a dark climax.” - Financial Times

“It is no secret that I have, on a number of occasions, confessed that John le Carré is an author who, in many different ways, has been an inspiration to me and my own work…. His latest novel, Our Kind of Traitor, is a remarkable book by the master who will not give up.” - Henning Menkell, The Daily Telegraph (UK)

“Swift and exciting … Le Carré’s pages are full of sharp insights and quick bits of information, of nuance and crosshatching, backstory and foreshadowing. He shifts the narrative point of view with an easy hand, and his deft use of flashback (even of flashback within flashback), reconstructing the then and there in the here and now, is at once unsettling and suspenseful: building tension even as it draws a reader close.” - San Francisco Chronicle

“Our Kind of Traitor confirms that le Carré’s work is still the gold standard of espionage fiction.” - Seattle Times

“A witty and absorbing page-turner.” - Belfast Telegraph

“Our Kind of Traitor is John le Carré’s purest espionage novel in years.” - Chicago Sun Times

“Powerful and sure-footed.” - The Times Literary Supplement (UK)

“John le Carré’s newest gem…well-paced… He is a master of irony, the dominant attitude of our time. But it is a provisional irony, aware of its own contingency. He’s our kind of novelist.” - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“No doubt in my mind: the best thriller of the year came from one of the modern masters of the craft. Le Carré’s 22nd thriller … was terrific … an essay in ennui and intrigue written with Le Carré’s sublime precision and eye for human failings.” - Daily Mail (UK)

“Our Kind of Traitor is one of the deftest of his recent novels and certainly the most timely.” - Time

“If you want to know about the state of Britain today, forget the Booker Prize shortlist. Just read John le Carré’s latest thriller, Our Kind of Traitor.” - The Evening Standard (UK)

“This chilling and astute post-Cold War thriller proves that John le Carré is still on top form. In Our Kind of Traitor, there is not a hair out of place. Having plumbed the devious depths of the Cold War, le Carré has done it again for our nasty new age.” - The Times (UK)

“True devotees of le Carré … appreciate that he’s best read slowly, savoured—like a peaty malt—sip by sip, sentence by sentence.” - The Herald (UK)

“A literary master for a generation.” - Observer (UK)

“Beautifully written and wonderfully observed.” - Mail on Sunday (UK)

“A well-crafted spy novel that exerts a strong page-turning grip…. First-class thriller entertainment.” - Metro (UK)

“Le Carré spins a long and increasingly tense plot…. Our Kind of Traitor builds to a masterful climax.” - The Scotsman (UK)

“Our Kind Of Traitor is a very satisfying thriller, combining exquisite pacing with a denouement that has implications far beyond the page.” - Singapore Straits Times

“Le Carré has exhibited a remarkable ability to turn multiple forms of international chicanery into gripping, incisive fiction…. [International money-laundering] is a complex but fascinating subject, and le Carré dissects it brilliantly.” - Booklist

“His most accessible work in years, this novel shows once again why his name is the one to which all others in the field are compared.” - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Trust le Carré to make his story of international money laundering, political infighting and unwitting treachery into a chamber symphony of exquisite delicacy.” - Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

John le Carré was born in 1931. His third novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, secured him a worldwide reputation, which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy Tinker, Tailor, SoldierSpy; The Honourable Schoolboy; and Smiley’s People. His recent novels include The Constant GardenerAbsolute Friends, The Mission Song, A Most Wanted Man, and Our Kind of Traitor. A Delicate Truth is his twenty-third novel.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best Laid Plans Dec 25 2010
By Ted Feit TOP 500 REVIEWER
This novel could easily have been entitled 'The Money Launderer Who Tried to Come in Out of the Cold.' It is the story of Dima, a Russian gangster, the Mickey Cohen of the Russian Mafia, who launders all the billions amassed in illegal activities. He makes contact with a visiting English couple on holiday in Antigua and leads them to contact British intelligence in an effort to defect with his extended family, exposing his erstwhile cohorts, as well as British politicians and notables.

The plot evolves around plans to extract Dima et al by a few intelligence operatives who not only have to free the Russians, but fight their own organization's superiors. The characterizations of each of the principals is outstanding, with the foibles, strengths and weaknesses of each displayed to the utmost. That's more than can be said for the various subjects under study: money laundering, banking, the Mumbai stock market and other supposed contemporary themes intended to replace the author's past dependence on the Cold War and its brand of spies.

Despite his reputation for research and detail, le Carre treats these essential topics in summary form, rather than in the depth one would expect from the list of experts he consulted. For instance, Dima gets a telephone call telling him to 'sell Mumbai,' only a while later to be informed to buy it back. For this, one has to consult a pro? And not even mention inside information. As for Dima's specialty, money laundering, there is virtually no hard description, just sort of a lackadaisical recounting of common knowledge. Despite this criticism, the author has written an entertaining tale, and it is recommended.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lazy Ending to a good book. Oct. 13 2010
A great read with many intriguing hints of twists-of-plot to come, tantalizing character development,all let down at the end with a (even for Le Carre!)lazy and unsatisfying end. One feels he got up that day and felt "today I have to finish it" and did so in about two paragraphs, resolving absolutely nothing. Very disappointing after what promised so much.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent read from Le Carre Jan. 19 2011
By Vitale
I found this book interesting, intriguing and the characters entirely believable. As usual, the characters are many faceted, with a healthy dose of good and bad in each one. The main characters' behaviour were almost predictable in the sense that I could see myself acting the same way.

I truly loved this book. Again, Le Carre has managed to take on one of the greatest scam happening throughout the world and show it for what it really is and show us for what we really are, willing, all too willing, to simply go on as usual.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Espionage Procedural That May Leave You Yawning Nov. 11 2010
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
"Nor from a foreigner's hand shall you offer any of these as the bread of your God, because their corruption is in them, and defects are in them." -- Leviticus 22:25 (NKJV)

Many of the best espionage stories involved Russian spies who wanted to defect to the UK or the US during the Cold War. A key question was always, "Is this person on the up-and-up?" Otherwise, a double agent might be brought on board and do untold damage. Careful vetting followed, which might or might not turn up the truth. But in the process, the suspense was tangible and rewarding.

There was an ultimate irony in all such fictional stories because the true history of Cold War espionage was filled with great success in infiltrating Western spy organizations . . . but the information wasn't taken very seriously by the Soviet leaders. So it didn't really matter all that much.

There's suspense here, too, but more of a "what else could happen next that's weird?" type. Although the story was certainly original, it didn't sustain my interest very well despite Mr. Le Carre's best efforts to make me care about the characters.

The story also moved very slowly and jerkily. A little more pace would have been nice.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not his best, but pretty solid. Nov. 15 2011
By Dave
I've been somewhat dissatisfied with Le Carre's recent novels that seem to be heavily slanted towards either African intrigue or thinly veiled commentary on the War on Terror.

I'd call this novel a bit of a return to form, the story of a couple of amateur spooks trying to smuggle a big time Russian money-launderer into the West. I'm not sure if I'd consider Le Carre more ambitious or less ambitious for sticking to his strengths on this novel, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.
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