John Le CarrÃ© is a writer I’m remiss to admit I’ve never read. I’ve seen film adaptations of his works such as “The Constant Gardener” and “The Russia House,” but I’ve never picked up one of his books.
With “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” currently in theaters and getting a lot of buzz, I debated between waiting for that to come to Netflix or first ordering up the DVDs for the acclaimed 1979 mini-series version starring Alec Guinness.
Then I decided I’d go straight to the source. Logging on to the Los Angeles Public Library website to see it there might be a copy on the shelves in one of my nearby branches (I’m blessed as a Silver Laker to have four within a couple miles or so of me), I quickly learned that there were like-minded people who were faster on the draw than me: there was not a copy pretty much citywide that wasn’t checked out or on hold.
Sure I could’ve ordered up a new or used copy from Amazon, but I was jonesing both for some library action as well as for some Le CarrÃ© so I headed out on foot to the Silver Lake branch where I found his 2008 novel “A Most Wanted Man” as well as 2010’s “Our Kind Of Traitor.”
It was a toss-up between the two until I cracked open the former and gave it the First Paragraph Test. Let’s just say, it passed:
A Turkish heavyweight boxing champion sauntering down a Hamburg street with his mother on his arm can scarcely be blamed for failing to notice that he is being shadowed by a skinny boy in a black coat.
I’ll betcha “Traitor” is just as good a read, but after marveling at that awesomely intriguing opening I was completely hooked and “Man” came with me to the check-out kiosk.