I hate shopping for clothes. Its the trying on that I really loath: measuring, alterations, and all that. Thus, the first fifty pages were sheer agony. Le Carré gives us all the goring details of the tailor in his natural habitat. I know all of the measurements necessary for a tailor-made suit. Now I have to buy a sewing machine. But finally we get a peek at the spy within, and, shades of Graham Greene, isnt this a simulacrum of Our Man in Havana. Conflict created by fabricated intelligence. (The author acknowledges this at the very end of the book.) Tedious at points: too much barely intelligible spy-speak compared to his other novels.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
Le Carre's Panama is a Casablanca without heroes, a hotbed of drugs, laundered money and corruption. It is also the country which on December 31, 1999, will gain full control of the Panama Canal.
Seldom has the weight of politics descended so heavily on such a tiny and unprepared nation. And seldom has the hidden eye of the British Intelligence selected such an unlikely champion as Harry Pendel - a charmer, a dreamer, an evader, a fabulist and presiding genius to the house of Pendel & Braithwaite Co. Limitada, Tailors to Royalty, formerly of London and presently of Panama City.
Yet there is a logic to the spies' choice, for everybody who is anybody in Cental America passes through Pendel's doors. He dresses politicos and crooks and conmen. His fitting room hears more confidences than the priest's confessional. And when Harry Pendel doesn't hear things as such - well, he hears them anyway, by other means.
Le Carre once again effortlessly expands the borders of the spy story to bring us a magnificent entertainment straight out of the pages of tomorrow's history
I started to read this for an online book club I follow. I couldn't finish it. I guess spy novels are just not my thing. I was going to give it a small number of stars, but it is probably good of its genre. The other book club people seemed to get a lot out of it.