Silverview by John Le Carre [8/10]

I skipped “Silverview,” John Le Carre’s final spy novel, because it was released posthumously. Too many bad experiences with novels from the grave had soured me of the strong desire to make sure I left no Le Carre unread. But praise from friends sent me backtracking to this final outing from late last year. Such a correct decision! Despite being, at 224 pages, only a little longer than a novella, Silverview is a perfect expression of one of the finest modern stylists we have seen. From the opening scene, I gasped at the bravura skill, the perfect pacing, the eloquent capturing of place and person, the musical ear for dialogue (especially between Briton and Briton). Le Carre has always been the master at unveiling his tricky plots just so slowly, just so fast, so that the reader has to work hard to keep up. We read in awe as Julian, ex-London-banker now running a bookshop in a tiny English seaside town, seemingly bumps into a charismatic, engaging but slippery Polish emigre residing in a mansion (named, of course, Silverview), while at the same time an anonymous-looking spy in London receives an unusual visitor, setting off a convoluted chain of events mysterious and duplicitous. Le Carre’s more recent output, while always brilliantly penned, has suffered a little from outraged messaging. Not so with Silverview, concise and set in the world he began with, the tricky corridors of spydom. A must for every fan and recommended for any reader.

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