Le Carré is a wonderful author and I have repeatedly enjoyed his George Smiley books, especially the Karla Trilogy which begins with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, a fictional account of the operation to root out the Cambridge Five, including the Russian mole whose character is based on the traitor Kim Philby.

The second book, the Honourable Schoolboy, in which Smiley attempts to rebuild a devastated British Intelligence Service by gleaning information from those operations that the mole had actively suppressed, takes place in southeast Asia and gives a very realistic glimpse into the utter insanity of the conflicts raging there. (the wiki page on the Honourable Schoolboy has an interesting glossary of intelligence service jargon which le Carré employs profusely throughout the novels.)

The final and triumphant Smiley's People finds our hero called out of retirement, once again, to tidy up the murder of one of his former agents. His investigation puts him on the trail of his Soviet nemesis, Karla.

All three books are spellbinding page turners. But, but, but, my absolute favorite adaptation of them (with the exception of the Honourable Shcoolboy whose subject matter was extremely unpopular at the time), is a pair of BBC mini series (here, and here) starring Alec Guinness as Smiley. Guinness is riveting and the stories unfold like a blossoming flower. Simply fantastic, I can't recommend them enough. (they can also be found on youtube, here and here).


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