This is vintage Le Carre in some respects but is different in tone to his previous classics. Nat is an old hand, back in a Brexiting Britain and reconnecting with his left leaning lawyer wife Prue. Nat narrates events in an insouciant, jaunty style, complete with his often funny mental asides. He is bemused when young Ed comes up to him at the Athleticus club and insists on issuing a badminton challenge. Nat, despite his age, is club champion. Ed proves to be an awkward, intense young man and over time reveals his indignant take on current political shenanigans. His commitment to more noble behaviour lands everyone in hot water, with the result that Nat and Prue find themselves taking some peculiar actions. It’s interesting to speculate on what would happen to them after the close of the novel.
One of the chief joys of the book is the acidic take on Trump, Brexit and the future of a risk averse Service Chief whose Tory Baroness wife is on a secret Treasury committee. We get the usual intriguing insights into spy tradecraft too. Alas budget cuts affect even surveillance teams. Nat is a likeable narrator, whose side you’re on. The female characters are well written: women of substance, all of them, even daughter Stef who is young and hot-headed; not quite rounded out yet. Through her we learn that some Panama bats turn off their sonar on well known paths. All in all, a great pleasure to read.
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