A Delicate Truth

A Delicate Truth

Summary

A counter-terror operation, codenamed Wildlife, is being mounted in Britain's most precious colony, Gibraltar. Its purpose: to capture and abduct a high-value jihadist arms-buyer. Its authors: an ambitious Foreign Office Minister, and a private defence contractor who is also his close friend. So delicate is the operation that even the Minister's Private Secretary, Toby Bell, is not cleared for it.

Suspecting a disastrous conspiracy, Toby attempts to forestall it, but is promptly posted overseas. Three years on, summoned by Sir Christopher Probyn, retired British diplomat, to his decaying Cornish manor house, and closely watched by Probyn's daughter Emily, Toby must choose between his conscience and his duty to the Service.

If the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing, how can he keep silent?

'No other writer has charted - pitilessly for politicians but thrillingly for readers - the public and secret histories of his times, from the second world war to the 'war on terror'' Guardian

'The master of the modern spy novel returns . . . this is writing of such quality that - as Robert Harris put it - it will be read in one hundred years. John le Carré was never a spy-turned-writer, he was a writer who found his canvas in espionage, as Dickens did in other worlds. The two men deserve comparison' Daily Mail

'A brilliant climax, with sinister deaths, casual torture, wrecked lives and shameful compromises' Observer

'With A Delicate Truth, le Carré has in a sense come home. And it's a splendid homecoming . . . the novel is the most satisfying, subtle and compelling of his recent oeuvre' The Times

John le Carré was born in 1931 and attended the universities of Bern and Oxford. He taught at Eton and served briefly in British Intelligence during the Cold War. For the last fifty years he has lived by his pen. He divides his time between London and Cornwall.

Reviews

  • I think he has easily burst out of being a genre writer and will be remembered as perhaps the most significant novelist of the second half of the 20th century in Britain. He will have charted our decline and recorded the nature of our bureaucracies like no one else has. But that's just been his route into some profound anxiety in the national narrative. Most writers I know think le Carré is no longer a spy writer. He should have won the Booker Prize a long time ago. It's time he won it and it's time he accepted it. He's in the first rank.
    Ian McEwan, Telegraph

About the author

John le Carré

John le Carré was born in 1931. For six decades, he wrote novels that came to define our age. The son of a confidence trickster, he spent his childhood between boarding school and the London underworld. At sixteen he found refuge at the university of Bern, then later at Oxford. A spell of teaching at Eton led him to a short career in British Intelligence (MI5&6). He published his debut novel, Call for the Dead, in 1961 while still a secret servant. His third novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, secured him a worldwide reputation, which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley's People. At the end of the Cold War, le Carré widened his scope to explore an international landscape including the arms trade and the War on Terror. His memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel, was published in 2016 and the last George Smiley novel, A Legacy of Spies, appeared in 2017. He died on 12 December 2020. His posthumous novel Silverview was published in 2021.
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