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Updated: July 6, 2011 15:35 IST

Slow chase

AISHWARYA RAJENDRAN
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Our KInd of Traitor: By John le Carre.
Our KInd of Traitor: By John le Carre.

Set in recession-gripped Britain, the book takes us through a slow paced story of spies and secret agents.

John le Carre's latest novel “Our Kind of Traitor” has the contemporary, recession-gripped Britain as its backdrop. The story initially orbits around Perry Makepiece, a left-leaning Oxford academic; his girlfriend Gail Perkins, a young barrister; and a Russian plutocrat Dmitri “Dima” Vladimirovich Krasnov.

The trap

Perry and Gail decide to spend his inheritance on a once-in-a-lifetime off-peak tennis holiday and go to the Caribbean island of Antigua where they bump into Dima. The Russian millionaire invites Perry for a tennis match which is just a cover for inveigling the pair into his scheme.

Dima divulges to Perry that he is a criminal and a money-launderer, the best in the trade as he likes to say often. He seeks protection in England in exchange for valuable information on various officials and criminals around the globe since he is terrified that he and his family will be slaughtered by his enemies. Thus enter Tom, Dick and Harry; the code names for Luke, Hector and Ollie (not necessarily in the same order) who are from the British Intelligence Service. These code names strike me as a ridiculous subterfuge. Together, these five attempt to aid Dima and his family in their escape to Britain. Whether they succeed in the mission forms the rest of the outrageously sluggish plot.

Shallow plot

That synopsis, interspersed with oddments of Dima's history as a member of the Russian criminal brotherhood, takes about half of the book which might give you an idea of the tempo of this purported spy story that slumbers along in second gear for its entirety.

If I included the bizarre and detached sub text about Dima's exceptionally stunning daughter's illegitimate pregnancy by a climbing instructor, but left out all the monotonous tennis and about the agents in vacillation, the remainder could easily be précised in a single paragraph and then you could save yourselves the bother of reading it at all. The unexpected and abrupt ending made me wonder if there was going to be a sequel to the book. I'm sorry to say that this book is strictly only for Le Carre fans.

Title: Our Kind of Traitor

Author: John le Carre

Publisher: Penguin

Price: Rs. 299

Aishwarya Rajendran, B.E Computer Science III, R.M.D Engineering college.

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