A Delicate Truth by John le Carre
A Novel

73%

19 Critic Reviews

It’s a warning bell about the sort of society one creates when the truth is doomed to remain secret.
-Toronto Star

Synopsis

From the acclaimed author of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Our Kind of Traitor which is now a motion picture starring Ewan McGregor, Naomie Harris, Stellan Skarsgård and Damian Lewis

John le Carré’s memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life, will be available from Viking in September 2016

"A novel that beckons us beyond any and all expectations."—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post

A counter-terrorist operation, code-named 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?


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About John le Carre

See more books from this Author
JOHN LE CARRÉ, the author of twenty-two novels, is the pseudonym for David Cornwell, who was a member of the British Foreign Service from 1959 to 1964. Many of his books have been made into films, including The Constant Gardener; The Russia House; The Little Drummer Girl; and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
 
Published May 7, 2013 by Penguin Books. 332 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, War, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on May 26 2013
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for A Delicate Truth
All: 19 | Positive: 15 | Negative: 4

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Olen Steinhauer on May 02 2013

By the end of “A Delicate Truth,” you either share his anger at the injustices between its covers, or you don’t. If you do, then you’re one of le Carré’s people. If not, you’re one of Smiley’s. It’s up to you to decide which one is more worthy.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Apr 30 2013

The only suspense stems from exactly what sort of form that showdown is going to take. In the end, it’s not enough to power this tendentious novel through to its unsurprising conclusion.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Edward Docx on May 11 2014

So I can tell you with some surety that A Delicate Truth is one of the best of what we must now call the old master's late period...Probyn and Bell are flawed-but-good men in a world of governmental corruption, cynicism, cover- and cock-up - classic le Carré protagonists, therefore.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Robert McCrum on Apr 20 2013

Le Carré...is never predictable, and always exploring new frontiers. A lesser writer might have fallen back on some literary tradecraft. Once the cat is out of the bag, the tempo and tone of A Delicate Truth becomes progressively relentless and angry.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Mark Lawson on Apr 19 2013

A Delicate Truth often feels like a formal summation of the concerns that have occupied his fiction for five decades...the book completes unfinished business for the author. Confounding those who wrote off spy fiction after the official end of the cold war...

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Robert McCrum on Apr 20 2013

There's a brilliant climax, with sinister deaths, casual torture, wrecked lives, and shameful compromises.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Mark Lawson on Apr 19 2013

This sense of a geopolitical timeline lying just under the narrative, like a listening bug under a table, is strong throughout the novel.

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NY Journal of Books

Above average
Reviewed by Robert Schaefer on May 11 2014

In reading moralists, cynics, and fantasists on the order of Mr. le Carré and Mr. Vonnegut, one discovers not just entertainment but also the sugaring of bitter pills.

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NPR

Below average
Reviewed by Alan Cheuse on May 16 2013

...this novel and the others like it don't offer anywhere near the pacing, excitement and sense of revelation that made le Carre novels from the '70s and '80s such masterworks.

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Kirkus

Excellent
on Mar 03 2013

...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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Financial Times

Below average
Reviewed by John Gapper on Apr 25 2013

...the moral shades of grey in earlier novels have turned to black and white...The brilliance of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold was that its goodies were bad and its baddie was good.

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NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Robert Schaefer on May 07 2013

The pacing of A Delicate Truth puts greatest dramatic tension near the end, something that would be ruined if the book were read from back to front—so don’t even think about it.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Tom Zelman on May 05 2013

His latest novel, intricately plotted and thoroughly engrossing, affirms the value of crying out the truth, be it ever so delicate.

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Washington Times

Above average
Reviewed by James Srodes on Jul 19 2013

Mr. Cornwell’s personal flaws aside, “A Delicate Truth” is still a ripping yarn in the le Carre tradition and well worth a summertime read on a shady porch with refreshments at hand.

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LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Richard Rayner on May 16 2013

...while some fans will miss the ambiguity of earlier books, "A Delicate Truth" delivers plentiful intelligence and thrills.

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Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by Deborah Dundas on May 10 2013

It’s a warning bell about the sort of society one creates when the truth is doomed to remain secret.

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AV Club

Good
Reviewed by Phil Dyess-Nugent on May 13 2013

Like Le Carré’s other recent books about the War On Terror, there’s a white-hot anger at its core, but Le Carré has finally learned how to channel that anger into furl for the narrative...

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on May 03 2013

It is characteristic of Le Carré’s clever twisting of narrative that readers don’t find out exactly what happens that night in Gibraltar until late in the novel.

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Thinking About Books

Good
Reviewed by David Marshall on Aug 23 2013

Although there are slight elements of preachiness and some obvious hostility towards America, this is a terrific book and the best from the old master for a few years. You should read it.

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