A Delicate Truth

A Delicate Truth

3.5 41
by John le Carré
     
 

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A counter-terrorist operation, codenamed Wildlife, is being mounted on the British crown colony of Gibraltar.  Its purpose: to capture and abduct a high-value jihadist arms buyer. Its authors: an ambitious Foreign Office Minister, a private defense contractor who is also his bosom friend, and a shady American CIA operative of the evangelical far

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Overview

A counter-terrorist operation, codenamed Wildlife, is being mounted on the British crown colony of Gibraltar.  Its purpose: to capture and abduct a high-value jihadist arms buyer. Its authors: an ambitious Foreign Office Minister, a private defense contractor who is also his bosom friend, and a shady American CIA operative of the evangelical far-right. So delicate is the operation that even the Minister’s personal private secretary, Toby Bell, is not cleared for it.

Three years later, a disgraced Special Forces Soldier delivers a message from the dead. Was Operation Wildlife the success it was cracked up to be—or a human tragedy that was ruthlessly covered up? Summoned by Sir Christopher (“Kit”) Probyn, retired British diplomat, to his decaying Cornish manor house, and closely observed by Kit’s daughter, Emily, Toby must choose between his conscience and duty to his Service. If the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing, how can he keep silent?

 

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Olen Steinhauer
The narrative dominoes fall with masterly precision…and by the time [Toby's] joined by Kit's alluring daughter the story settles into classic conspiracy thriller territory, the two of them racing to assemble evidence before they can be silenced by the men who pull the strings. As ever, le Carré's prose is fluid, carrying the reader toward an inevitable yet nail-biting climax. This is John le Carré's 23rd novel, and neither prolificacy nor age…has diminished his legendary and sometimes startling gift for mimicry. More than the inventory of closely observed outfits, chronicles of public schools and slumped, bookish frames, it's the voices that give the characters in A Delicate Truth their most immediate claim to three-dimensionality.
The Washington Post - Colin Fleming
What makes A Delicate Truth work is that the story powers the writerly flourishes and, after a while, vice versa. This is popcorn reading—you can shovel buckets of it into your mouth as you turn the pages. At the same time, the narrative and temporal shifts enhance your sense of the complex choices that men like Paul, Jeb and especially Toby—he is our real hero in a three-man race—have to make, which in turn suggest choices we make as readers. In the case of A Delicate Truth, the rewarding choice is to follow le Carré down the labyrinthine corridors of a novel that beckons us beyond any and all expectations.
Publishers Weekly
State-sanctioned duplicity drives bestseller le Carré’s entertainingly labyrinthine if overly polemical 23rd novel, which features a corrupt British Foreign Office minister, Fergus Quinn, and an American private defense contractor “best known as Ethical Outcomes.” In 2008, a cloak-and-dagger plot to capture an arms dealer in Gibraltar under the mantle of counterterrorism goes awry. Quinn’s secretary, Toby Bell, who was kept out of the loop, has incriminating information about the mission and the chance to use it three years later when one of the soldiers involved ends up dead and a retired British diplomat, roped into participating against his will, tries to salve his conscience about some nasty pieces of collateral damage. As usual, le Carré (Our Kind of Traitor) tells a great story in sterling prose, but he veers dangerously close to farce and caricature, particularly with the comically amoral Americans. His best work has been about the moral ambiguity of spying, while this novel feels as if the issue of who’s bad and who’s good is too neatly sewn up. Agent: Jonny Geller, Curtis Brown. (May)
From the Publisher
Praise for A DELICATE TRUTH
 
“At the moment a new generation is stumbling upon his work, le Carré is still writing at something close to the top of his game…. [A Delicate Truth] is an elegant yet embittered indictment of extraordinary rendition, American right-wing evangelical excess and the corporatization of warfare. It has a gently flickering love story and jangling ending. And le Carré has not lost his ability to sketch, in a line or two, an entire character.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times Magazine

“The narrative dominoes fall with masterly precision....As ever, le Carré’s prose is fluid, carrying the reader toward an inevitable yet nail-biting climax.”—Olen Steinhauer, The New York Times Book Review (front page)

“Timelier than ever.”—The New York Times
 
“Well-wrought….A sharply sketched gallery of characters.”—The Wall Street Journal
 
“Le Carré is fiercely modern…a confluence of styles, voices, approaches….A novel that beckons us beyond any and all expectations.”—Washington Post

“[L]e Carré is...at full power with a book that draws on a career’s worth of literary skill and international analysis. No other writer has charted—pitilessly for politicians but thrillingly for readers—the public and secret histories of his times.”—The Guardian (UK)
 
“Gorgeous writing. It’s sophisticated storytelling at its very best.”—USA Today
 
“A ripping, fun yarn.”—Entertainment Weekly
 
“Loyalty to the crown is tested; consciences are checked; and nothing is more terrifying than, as this novel’s protagonist puts it, ‘a solitary decider’ asking himself how on earth he talked himself into this mess.”—The Daily Beast
 
“A remarkably assured touch…. [Le Carré] has maintained full control of his prodigious literary talents.”—SF Gate

“The dirty deeds are brutal and crude. And so is the cover-up.”—The Huffington Post
 
“Heady and absorbing....John le Carré remains in full command of both the craft of writing and the art of espionage.”—Christian Science Monitor
 
“As fresh as today’s headlines….A ripping yarn in the le Carré tradition.”—Washington Times

“Le Carré further establishes himself as a master of a new, shockingly realistic kind of noir.”—Booklist (Starred)

“This is a guaranteed hair-raising cerebral fright, especially for anyone who enjoyed Robert Harris’s The Ghost or who just knows his or her email account has been hacked.”—Library Journal (Starred)

“Le Carré focuses on the moral rot and creeping terror barely concealed by the affable old-boy blather that marks the pillars of the intelligence community.”—Kirkus Reviews (Starred)

“A great story in sterling prose.”—Publishers Weekly

“Le Carré proves himself a master of character development.”—The Millions
 
“Another breathtakingly good work…. [the] story hurtles along with the speed of light.”—Newsday

“The upper register of a great writer’s oeuvre. Knowledge is not power in the novel: John le Carré believes that truth, difficult and generous on its own, can also kill you.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
 
“Characteristically clever.”—The Kansas City Star

“Stylish, taut storytelling….One of our finest writers.”—Tampa Bay Times
 
“Witty as it is insightful….A Delicate Truth is a delightful read that unnerves as it entertains.”—The Columbus Dispatch
 
“The master storyteller, le Carré, is still at war. His foes now are legion. But his battles, and his novels, are flooded with light and hope. He pins his faith, and that of his readers, on the fundamental decency of those most vulnerable and quirky of warriors – the average joes.”—OregonLive.com

“Expertly constructed and sharply detailed….How uncannily this [novel] reflects the headlines of the day.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Vintage le Carré.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
 
“A career’s worth of literary skill and international analysis…..No other writer has chartered…the public and secret history of his times.”—The Guardian (UK)

“Remarkable….[A Delicate Truth] displays the mastery of the early and the passion of late Le Carré.”—Robert McCrum, The Observer (UK)

“Writing of such quality that…it will be read in one hundred years….[Le Carré] found his canvas in espionage, as Dickens did in other worlds. The two men deserve comparison.”—Daily Mail (UK)

“The tension ratchets up superbly as revelation follows on revelation….[Le Carré] is a writer of towering gifts, whose fiction appeals to a reading public both popular and serious….A talent to provoke as well as unsettle.”—The Independent (UK)

 

Library Journal
Toby Bell, the foreign office minister's private secretary, tries to determine whether a 2008 counterterrorist operation aimed at abducting a jihadist arms buyer went awry. Le Carré's scenarios are up-to-date as his understanding of political intrigue is timeless.
Kirkus Reviews
The distinguished chronicler of Cold War espionage and its costs casts his cold eye on the fog of war and its legacy when the war sets terrorists against the mercenaries and independent contractors to whom international security has been farmed out. A colorless midlevel civil servant is plucked from the anonymous ranks of the Foreign Office, given a wafer-thin cover identity as statistician Paul Anderson and packed off to Gibraltar, where he's to serve as the eyes and ears and, mainly, the yea or nay of rising Member of Parliament Fergus Quinn, who can't afford to be directly connected to Operation Wildlife. On the crucial night the forces in question are to disrupt an arms deal and grab a jihadist purchaser, both Paul and Jeb Owens, the senior military commander on the ground, smell a rat and advise against completing the operation. But they're overridden by Quinn, who says, "I recommend but do not command" that Operation Wildlife be completed. Shortly after its execution, Paul, promised "[m]edals all round," is bundled back into a plane bound for home. Sure enough, he emerges from the hush-hush affair with a knighthood and the unspoken thanks of a grateful monarch. Three years later, however, he happens to run into Jeb and hears the ruined soldier tell a decidedly less glorious story of the operation that involves extraordinary rendition, a dead mother and child, and a callous coverup. At the same time, Quinn's Private Secretary Toby Bell also becomes painfully aware of irregularities in the official record and confronts Jay Crispin, the Houston-based head of the private intelligence firm Ethical Outcomes, for answers. What he gets instead are more questions and personal danger. Resolutely keeping potential action sequences just offstage, le Carré (Our Kind of Traitor, 2010, etc.) focuses instead on the moral rot and creeping terror barely concealed by the affable old-boy blather that marks the pillars of the intelligence community.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670014897
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/07/2013
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
946,487
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author John le Carré (A Delicate Truth and Spy Who Came in from the Cold) was born in 1931 and attended the universities of Bern and Oxford. He taught at Eton and served briefly in British Intelligence during the Cold War. For the last fifty years he has lived by his pen. He divides his time between London and Cornwall.

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