|"Another great masterpiece from the master of spy stories. This too is a George Smiley's story.
British Government receives a sudden jolt when they wake up to the situation that a Soviet mole has penetrated innermost layers of Secret Service(referred to as “circus”). In house investigation is impossible since nobody knows who or where the mole is and at what level.
George Smiley, the retired spy master who was ousted in disgrace at having hinted at such a possibility many years back, is called back from hibernation and is briefed on the background which is;
Ricky Tarr an operative in Hong Kong had cultivated a Soviet spy Irene and made her ready to defect. Tarr sent the proposal to London, and never received a reply. In the meanwhile Irene disappeared leaving behind a diary which mentions about a high level mole in Circus recruited by Karla, the dreaded Soviet Spy Chief.. Many other corroborative references and details too are provided which are unsubstantiated. Tarr fearing reprisal of Soviet as well as Circus goons, has gone into hiding, just to appear for a briefing session with George Smiley.
Now George Smiley is requested by British Minister to take charge of the problem, solve the puzzle, smoke out the mole and neutralize him. The problem is, there can't be an investigation, normal techniques of surveillance, phone tapping, mail interception, interrogation etc cannot be used because no one can be trusted or alerted. Smiley can't even visit Circus lest the mole is alerted. It's a mission impossible, the only tools are Smiley's phenomenal analytical skills, his contacts, private resources, and anonymity.
Smiley accepts the job and starts the job. Through meticulous hardwork of analysis, deduction, logic, ferreting out information through old acquaintances and sources without letting them know of anything, Smiley carries on. The story of the investigation and analysis is the best I have ever come across. After months of hardwork Smiley manages to shortlist 4 possible suspects who are code named Tinker, Tailor, Soldier and Spy.
Now these four probables have to be confronted, interrogated and cornered into confession. Smiley manages all this in masterly manner without anyone of the suspects being aware that he is the suspect.
The final interrogation session conducted as a friendly chat by Smiley in presence of Whitehall big boys, is the ultimate tradecraft, which is almost an art form.
One feels sad at the end that despite the stupendous achievement of Smiley on the professional front, a massive betrayal and breach of trust to Smiley ravage his personal front.
It's a worth reading and unforgettable book. A treasure indeed.
r b siddhanti, Resident Scholar