Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

John le Carré, read by Michael Jayston. Penguin Audio, unabridged, 10 CDs, 13 hrs., $39.95 ISBN 978-1-61176-087-3
Packaged to tie in with the recent film version of this masterful spy thriller, the audio edition benefits from strong narration from Michael Jayston, an actor who appeared in the 1979 BBC television adaptation of le Carré’s complex novel. The twisting plot, boiled down, focuses on retired British spymaster George Smiley, who’s called back to duty to find a traitor among the “gang of four” now heading England’s secret service. In the miniseries, Jayston portrayed Smiley’s right-hand man, Peter Guillam. In this audio edition, he easily slips back into the loyal, dedicated Guillam, while also doing justice to the book’s cast of characters. His spot-on portrayal of Smiley admirably includes both of the protagonist’s sides: his quietly brilliant professionalism and his personal self-doubt and fecklessness. Jayston’s characterizations are invariably effective, from gruff, lonely, and broken ex-spy Jim Prideaux to the high-flying, arrogant members of the “gang of four.” Two moments—Smiley’s subtle questioning of a former teammate, once famous for her now-fading memory, and the exciting, highly suspenseful exposure of the Russian spy—are particular standouts. Jayston matches both perfectly, as well as all those in between. A Penguin paperback. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 04/30/2012
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