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Publisher's Summary

When a leak is traced back to a small sub-section of SIS, it sparks off security checks, tensions and suspicions - the sort of atmosphere where mistakes could be made. This novel opens up the lonely, isolated, neurotic world of the Secret Service.
©1978 Graham Greene (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Darwin8u on 06-25-12

Non-traditional Espionage Novel that Subverts ALL

I love Greene's subtle touch. Greene is a master at the muddy nature of man. He is able to tell an absolutely non-traditional espionage story that takes one of man's greatest virtues (gratitude) and shows that even this can be used/abused in a world full of bureaucratic vipers who are all comfortable in Weber's "polar night of icy darkness". Greene's plot erodes the romance and violence of the majority of spy novels and replaces it with amoral bureaucratic impulses.

When reading any of Greene's spy novels, it is important to remember the answers are never easy and sometimes written with smoke. The poetry, however, of Greene's language slowly builds his arguments and counter-arguments and weaves a powerful morality play that left me feeling just as limited and corrupt as the rest of the world's pension-seeking spy-masters.

Tim Piggot-Smith did a great job with this book. The audiobook requires a subtle reader. This is not a novel you can overdo. Tim did a great job floating on that thin line between reading and acting. Very enjoyable.

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26 of 27 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Megasaurus on 11-12-12

A book is like a sandy path which keeps the indent

Any additional comments?

Graham Greene is a master storyteller with preternatural insight into human nature. As a previous reviewer noted Greene divided his works into categories of literature and entertainments. This story illustrates how rich and satisfying entertainment can (and could) be in the hands of true genius versus genre hacks that currently flood the market.

A former member of MI6, Green's own supervisor was eventually found to be a double agent for the Soviet Union. Greene's depth of actual experience in the espionage trade colors all of his novels that deal with political intrigue. The most important factor of which is the lack of glamor and thrills that the job actually entails. Even his most humorous spy novel, "Our Man in Havana" is full of the bureaucracy and idiosyncrasies that plague the profession.

This insight not only renders it all the more believable, it imbues it with a human element of fallibility. While we all might like to believe the propaganda of a well oiled government secret service, we're all aware that it is a leaky boat full of holes that miraculously doesn't sink.

It's the dull daily plodding of betrayal and treason in the character of Castle that makes this book so riveting. Each character is drawn with such an unforgiving and keen view. Greene has breathed imperfection, beauty, and flaws into each creature he created in this novel to give life to the human factor.

I highly recommend actually reading the novel, and all of Greene's novels. Greene's subtle and masterful use of language is a delicacy for the eyes, brain and soul to digest like a fine meal. In a sense, you'll cheat yourself by only encountering Greene through audio. However, once you've read them, audio offerings like this are an exceptional treat and a great way to re-experience the novel.


I was drawn to this because Greene is my favorite author and because I adore Tim Piggot-Smith. I've been a fan since his amazing portrayal of Ronald Merrick in "The Jewel in the Crown." He is a fine actor, and while he does play an exceptional villain, it was nice to see him stretch his acting muscle in a different direction. He does a remarkable job in this offering. He is the first male audio book performer who I've heard read a female character really well. All the different characters are so uniquely portrayed, I was flabbergasted at Piggot-Smith's vocal acting range. This was a very slow audio book. I spent over a month with it. I generally prefer to listen to audio books as a multi-tasking kind of entertainment for manual tasks that don't engage my brain. This audio book was so engaging, it demanded a lot of attention and I found I enjoyed it more on my commute, walking, and before bed than I did while doing chores or arduous exercise. Very enjoyable and highly recommended!

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Peter on 05-02-13

Superb Narration

Although the cultural references of this Graham Green novel are rather out of date, the narration and characterisation by Tim Piggot-Smith is absolutely superb - really a one man radio play and he brings the story line completely alive. Interesting that the theme of inevitable disaster for the human spirit in the secret world , makes Le Carre the natural heir to Greene. A very good listen.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Michael on 04-16-11

A very enjoyable British espionage tale


Those of us who are Wilbur Smith fans already know Tim Piggot-Smith is amongst the top three or four audiobook performers whose names guarantee a great experience.

Greene introduces you to the secretive world of MI6 without loosing sight of the 'human factor'. He places you firmly inside the heads of the characters, fleshing them out while at the same time creating disturbing sense of oppressive life they live. No one creates more realistic characters than Greene; you don't question their authenticity for an instant.

A must for all Flemming and L? Carre fans.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Peter on 12-06-17

Wonderful

What about Tim Pigott-Smith’s performance did you like?

Wonderful

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The end - I didn't want it to end!

Any additional comments?

... ..... ..... ..... ...... .....

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