Alas, the last of my four Smiley novels turned out to be as uninteresting as the second one and although it was shorter, and probably better written, it never really got my juices flowing. From the purely technical perspective, I suppose, given his background, Le Carré's novels are more realistic than the works of other Cold War authors might be, but frankly, all the subtle realism gets a bit tedious without some alleviating drama every now and again, and reading about Smiley's obsessive reading and cleaning his glasses on his tie end doesn't quite stack up against a good fire fight every so often. Robert Harris it ain't!
By Craig Thomas
I'd read a couple of Thomas's books back in the late eighties, 'Firefox' and 'Firefox Down', but I couldn't remember what they were really like, and whether nor not I'd liked them even then. Any memory of the novels was eclipsed by the film starring Clint Eastwood.
I decided to buy a couple of Thomas's other novels and see if they held water and this was the first of the two I chose. I suppose I should have been warned by the monotony of the covers as both books feature a MIL-24 on the cover, and perhaps I was feeling a slight apprehension as I had the spectre of Tom Clancy lurking in the back of my mind. 'Snow Falcon' wasn't that bad, but it wasn't much better either. Thomas seems to have had a preoccupation with his character's inner weaknesses for just about every one in this story spends every moment of every day feeling small and weak and scared of the world around them. I feel like that too sometimes, and as a consequence I know what kind of entertainment value it offers; not much. Its okay to reveal a characters weaknesses. Its quite another to obsess about them over the course of a novel. It gets old.
Perhaps this is an aspect of the whole Cold War paranoia thing though? It didn't escape my attention that the main character in 'Snow Falcon', just like George Smiley, was a passive cuckold and perhaps there is some terrible fear of inadequacy lurking at the bottom of the Cold Warrior's mind? Or maybe its just a coincidence. Either way, this novel didn't make for a very entertaining read, and whilst the premise of the book showed some slight promise, the execution was terrible. The idea that the Soviet Union could secretly have staged a crossing in to Finland and the subsequent occupation of a Finnish village, as a pre-invasion dry run, is truly laughable. Even for 1979. When I realised this was what the novel was about, I actually groaned out loud.
The rest of the story was more or less straight forward. There were no real twists or surprises, just a lot of interchangable Russian names and obvious plot progressions. I suppose I expected this, but I was still disapointed.