A Delicate Truth

  • by John le Carré
  • Narrated by John le Carré
  • 10 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A Delicate Truth opens in 2008. 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.
Cornwall, UK, 2011: 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 beautiful daughter, Emily, Toby must choose between his conscience and duty to his Service. If the only thing necessary to the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing, how can he keep silent?


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

I haven't enjoyed a tale this much in many listens

Although this is didactic Le Carre -- a cautionary tale of war and intelligence gone corporate -- it’s also a very exciting listen. Le Carre's plot, prose, character, and dialogue are superior to any other espionage novelist I've encountered, and he’s at his best when creating ethical dilemmas (though any including defense contractors and lobbyist-types are less morally ambiguous than in some of his classic novels!)

I loved loved loved being read to by Le Carre! The narration is actually excellent once your ear tunes into him, except for one questionable production choice, an incident of which pops up in the audio sample provided: A "handler" when on a telephone echoes like bad long distance circa cold war landlines. This is not characteristic of the listen as a whole, however.

As a novel this may not stand among Le Carre’s finest, but as a contemporary espionage yarn it can’t be beat. There are some now standard le Carre characters and political stances, but what delightful dialogue, character observation and sharp turns-of-phrases. Graham Greene would have loved this entertainment.

This novel reminds me of why I love reading. Having the author tell me the story and "turn his own phrase" and "bite" his own dialogue is icing.
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- connie "Narrative makes the world go round."

May i sneak in here?

I would have passed on reviewing this novel as the last le Carré novel I read was Constant Gardner, followed by about a third of Tinker Tailor..., and I feel there are more informed le Carré fans that already cover his books with better insight than I could. But, I recommended this book to a friend that disliked it very much, surprised that I liked it at all. Looking again at the reviews (which convinced me to try le Carré again), I realized most of the reviewers indicate they are fans or followers of le Carré's work. I'm a fan, but not so consistent. I view le Carré's novels as timeless, sophisticated writing about British espionage, characteristically strongly tinted with lively moral outrage, (and--nothing like James Bond) -- I've followed his books long enough to accept this caveat upon purchase. I now understand how a reader experiencing the le Carré phenomenon for the first time might think they are getting a lightweight piece of British noir from a white-hat-wearing cantankerous Brit with a bad taste for Americans and a diseased society.

Le Carré characters tell the story to the reader with a person to person intimate style, very much in character, passing along the top secret story and bringing the reader into the espionage, something he does better than any contemporary writer in this genre. As in any conversation, if you aren't listening to the person speaking to you, especially in the sometimes hushed tones of esoteric code-speak, affected with the innuendo of the specific lifestyle, you won't know what is going on. A Delicate Truth begins in a confusing maelstrom of events; le Carré doesn't insult the reader's intelligence by spoon-feeding you the game plan, or by bloating the dialogue with information -- attention and observation crystallize the details as you listen. The characters aren't overly sketched, but the details garnered are artfully defining and individual hallmarks. He leaves the tech-gadgets to Ian Fleming, relying more on integrity and honor than reflexive aim and brute force (which I am also all for). The action may not get your adrenalin pumping, but the dead-on assessment of our global greed and ruthlessness drives in deeper than any bullet could.

This wasn't my fav le Carré, but I did think it a good one -- a return to a style of his books I preferred, with taught suspense and a plot that could erupt in a single simple action (or lack thereof). I enjoyed being a part of the intellectual and moral process. The author's bona fide performance as narrator, with his *humphs* and audible exasperations, gives an added exuberance to the story and the characters. I fault myself for not giving my friend the *caveat* with the recommendation--maybe he would have approached the book the wiser. I enjoyed le Carré again, and am glad I took the time to read the reviews of his fans. A good thoughtful listen in true le Carré style.
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- Mel

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-07-2013
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio