This was a bit of a trudge,I’m not sure if this were the fault of the book or me being distracted while reading it. The book is a satire of a spy story. This was my first Le Carre book, I picked it up because it was cheap (4 lari or $2.27).
The setting is post Noriega Panama, the British Secret Service wish to recruit a local tailor who measures up all the important players in Panama for their suits. The idea that floats in and out of the plot is the possibility that on expiry of the Canal Treaty a Sino-Japanese initiative will seek to construct a new canal to undercut the original by reducing transit times. Andrew Osnard, a rather overweight English slob, to commission and to gather intelligence on the matter. Osnard seeks to recruit Harry Pendel, the tailor of the title to gather such intelligence. Pendel is a skilled tailor but he has form and he also needs money having foolishly invested in a rice farm without water.
Osnard is looking to make himself wealthy on the side. Nothing much is happening in Panama and Pendel starts feeding Osnard with false information. Both together create a situation which leads to Mickie, a friend of the tailor committing suicide. This provides the Americans an excuse to invade Panama.
I read the book on the metro, the lack of suspense failed to grip me, which is why it took me a month instead of a week to read. The small writing and the poor metro lighting has also caused me to consider getting some reading glasses for my 49 year old eyes.
My rating is 2.5 out of 5