John le Carre's been writing spy fiction since the days of the Cold War - and now that it's over, this prolific author still manages to churn out some very readable books. His latest bestseller, "Single and Single", begins with a stunning opening chapter - a lawyer from the firm of Single and Single is taken to a quiet mountaintop in Turkey, and executed in cold blood for a crime he has not committed...
Thus begins the story of Tiger Single and his son Oliver. Tiger is the head of Single and Single, and has turned the company into one of the brightest stars of London's financial empire through some shrewd business dealings - many of them straddling the thin line between legal and criminal enterprise. His son, Oliver, erstwhile heir to the family fortune and the firm of Single and Single, was originally involved in Single's business dealings, until the day he suffered an attack of conscience and voluntarily exiled himself from the firm.
Now, Single's is facing ruin from a band of determined marauders with a grudge to settle, and Tiger's on the run. The only one who can track him down is Oliver - and it is with a heavy heart that the prodigal son returns to do his duty. The chase leads all over the world, before the surprising climax in the Caucasus.
As is his custom, le Carre never falters - Oliver's soul-searching is handled very deftly, as is the manner in which the plot slowly unfolds. Subtly constructed, "Single and Single" is a truly brilliant novel, by an author from whom one expects no less. Much recommended!This article was first published on 29 Mar 2000.