A Delicate Truth, CD-Audio
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


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 defence 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? "No other writer has charted - pitilessly for politicians but thrillingly for readers - the public and secret histories of his times, from the second world war to the 'war on terror" (Guardian). "The master of the modern spy novel returns...this is writing of such quality that - as Robert Harris put it - it will be read in one hundred years. John le Carre was never a spy-turned-writer, he was a writer who found his canvas in espionage, as Dickens did in other worlds.

The two men deserve comparison." (Daily Mail). "A brilliant climax, with sinister deaths, casual torture, wrecked lives and shameful compromises." (Observer). "With A Delicate Truth, le Carre has in a sense come home. And it's a splendid homecoming...the novel is the most satisfying, subtle and compelling of his recent oeuvre." (The Times).


  • Format: CD-Audio
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Thriller / suspense
  • ISBN: 9780670923397



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Not his brilliant best, but still an entertaining read. A careful look at what could plausibly lie behind the UK government's denial of involvement in extraordinary rendition.As alway with Le Carre, this is a character driven study. In this case we follow two people, one Kit, a quiet member of the Foreign Office, called upon to provide on the scene oversight to a secret mission, and then for the majority of the book, Toby Bell, a Private Secretary to a minister, who learns some facts that he'd rather not. Kit observes a deniable operation whereby British special forces, detached from normal duty, aid an American force of mercenaries on a raid to capture a suspected terrorist looking for information. There is some confusion about the presence of the target, but the raid goes ahead and Kit is assured of the teams' success. Three years later Kit meets, by chance, one of the soldiers on the team , now out of the army, and learns some disquieting facts which he passes to Toby. Together they have to learn a diplomatic way of expressing a delicate truth to those in power - both political and physical. The ending is ambiguous, which is unlike Carre, who normally manages to convey a clear sense of where the inequities might be.This is yet another of LeCarre's looks at the role corporations have within the political intelligence scene within both the UK and the US. How much of this is 'true' is a debatable point, which I guess is Le Carre's idea - to make readers think about what may underlie the brief sentences that make the national news. His writing is always slow and studied, there are no dramatic actions scenes but he does convey the tensions and doubts of the key players admirably well. It is however a brief and somewhat simplistic story. We only get one side of the events, and have no idea as to the actual truth that occurred. There is little devious plotting, merely a mostly faceless shadow that opposes them, with no stated motive. One can suppose a lot of things, as the 'heroes' do. Kit's wife is frequently stated as being ill, but no name or symptoms are ever given and it is far from clear why or what she is suffering from, or how this should effect Kit.Not his best, but still very readable and casts doubts, as ever, on the UK political scene.

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