The Honourable Schoolboy is a John Le Carré tale from the dark underside of the West’s Cold War spy operations.
After his unmasking of British secret service chief Bill Haydon as a 30-year Russian agent, told in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, George Smiley was appointed its caretaker.
Exploring investigations that Haydon surpressed, Smiley sends Jerry Westerby, a.k.a., “the honorable schoolboy,” to Hong Kong where he learns the owner of a trust fund to which the Russians have been covertly a “gold seam” is millionaire Drake Ko.
Ko has never touched the fund, which amounts to a half-million dollars.
Smiley wants to know what the Russian are buying.
To find out, Westerby follows some very unsavory characters in Cambodia, Thailand, and in Saigon as the North Vietnamese Army captures it.
As in the other le Carré novels about the Circus, Schoolboy holds stories nested inside one another like a wedding gift of mixing bowls.
There’s plenty of action, but the toughest work is done men and women poring over documents looking for patterns and anomalies and asking, “Why?”
The novel requires similar close attention from readers just to keep up with the twists of the story.
The Honourable Schoolboy
by John le Carré
Knopf, 1977. 533 p.
1977 bestseller #4. My grade: B+
© 2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni