A secret operation in Gibraltar seemingly goes off without a hitch. But when the British Foreign Office minister freezes out his private secretary, Toby Bell, Toby gets suspicious. It’s not until three years later that secrets about Operation Wildfire start to be whispered about, drawing in Toby who’s determined to unravel this Delicate Truth.
As John le Carre’s 22nd novel, you may think he has run out of espionage tales to tell, but Truth is just as captivating (and just about as confusing) as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. With three main characters who tally about 7 different aliases total, keeping track of the characters can be a task—but it’s a rewarding one. Le Carre’s purposefully obfuscated storytelling in the first half is structured to make the second half more thrilling and engaging. For espionage thrillers like his, every book is a little puzzle and reading it can feel like a game.
Of course, for those not interested in games, his books also have a unique prose style that’s enjoyable to read all on its own. He writes with a sparse, fragmented voice that conveys so much more with so much less. It also lends an urgency to the more thrilling parts of the novel that gets lost with wordier thrillers.
If you’re looking to dive into John le Carre’s impressive oeuvre, then A Delicate Truth is not the best jumping off point. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or The Spy Who Came in from the Cold are more natural starting points; the Cold War being his specialty. But he can handle contemporary tales with equal finesse. So if you’re itching for a le Carre novel, then Truth will easily satisfy that.