First rate effort from the master, capturing the zeitgeist of the present time, even the response in the United States to the current surveillance disclosures, where the Pew Research polls show the public does not care about the disappearance of the 4th Amendment rights we were taught as children. The moral ambiguity that le Carre is noted for is present, but perhaps not so ambiguous to the participants in this story, as they, like others past and present, find themselves paying a high price, even the ultimate price, for succumbing to their principles.
The characterizations are engaging, and the story, and the intercuts from past to present become more and more compelling as the story proceeds, to the point where it is not possible to put the book down. The character of Her Majesty's Minister Kit Probyn is by turns interesting and appalling, while Toby Bell is more and more impressive as the story unfolds to its ambiguous ending, where I was left wondering at the possibilities that might unfold for Toby, and Emily, and all.
Having read some other reviews that seem to find the portrayal of the British and American officialdom's involvement in the story's action too negative to be believable, I find this point of view ironic, in that we are in the middle of the trial of Bradley Manning who is alleged to have leaked the video/audio record of the US military's killing of nine innocents, including a Reuters photographer and his driver, and of the shooting of the driver of the van who tried to ferry those shot to the hospital, as well as the children who were passengers in the van. "Well, it's their fault for bringing their kids into a battle," one pilot of an Apache helicopter said. The Iraqis knew what had happened, so, I am sure, did the intelligence services of the major powers. Who did not know? The American public did not know. Who is on trial, after a year of what the UN agency for tracking such things called torture? The alleged whistleblower. As my friend once told me, "you have to laugh, or you will cry."