ClassicThe Little Drummer Girl by John le Carré

The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carré


John Le Carré was a prolific bestselling writer who also had a career in intelligence. This massively influenced his literary work, I’m sure others will consider another of his renowned books as their favourites but The Little Drummer girl stands out for me.

It transcends the genre of spy/espionage thriller beyond many in this category due to the complexity of the characters as we are given an unflinching insight into the mind of both interrogator and interrogated. 

Set in many locations and centred on the conflict between Israel and Palestine, Charlie is a burgeoning actress who is persuaded to become an agent by Martin Kurtz, a Mossad spy master who intends to target Khalil, a Palestinian terrorist. 

What I love about this book is how le Carré explores deeply the changing alliances of the characters, and the many perspectives and reasons for the action taken on both sides. Charlie is presented with explanations and justifications, sees the human side of war and her ensuing struggle encapsulates elements of this vastly complex subject matter. The men she is in between are self- righteous and utterly certain that they are doing the right thing by utilising violence to protect their people. 

It is brutal, visceral, evocative and compelling. I loved the build up of plot, this is not a book that is all action and pace but strikes a balance between creating characters you have tremendous insight into and also focusing on depicting for the reader the nuances of the fraught subject matter. I found in unputdownable the first time I read it and it’s a book I will go back to periodically as it’s a firm favourite.

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