As the new Tinker, Tailor movie is about to reach our shores – SA ones that is – I thought I’d read the book first. It’s not something I generally do, but I love a good story line and Tinker looked as if it hit the mark.
With that in mind I purchased a Kindle copy and began reading. I’m now 120 pages in and I have no idea of what is going on, who the characters are, or why anybody is talking to each other. And to say I’m bored is putting it mildly. I find I switch on my Kindle expecting a defining moment, and within 2 pages I’m asleep. Every single time, it’s the same, page 1 yawn, page 2 snoozing.
There are a huge amount of references to honey-traps, janitors, ferrets, nuts and bolts, circus, lamplighters, scalphunters, shoemakers etc etc. But at no time is this jargon explained, it’s almost as if JLC (John) assumes the majority of the populus worked for MI6 and or MI5 at some stage. Yes I did watch Spooks, but I hardly think that qualifies.
It’s a frustrating book, not only because of the jargon, but also there is no action. All the characters seem to do is sit around, or walk around while talking to each other as only the awfully, awfully British can do. JLC, where is the poisonous umbrella tip, or even the exploding bowler hat? Or am I jumping the gun, will all this happen around page 242?
My understanding of a book is that something significant should happen within the first 10 or so pages to hook you in, and in turn will get the old brain juices pumping to keep you gripped.
I think part of the problem is the book was first published in 1974. That doesn’t sound quite right does it? How can I put this? I suppose what I’m trying to say is if you compare Tinker to a modern-day action/spy/thriller book, you will find the tone, the language, the scenes etc are punchier, faster, swifter and more refined. And therefore far more entertaining
Take the James Bond movies as another example of time-stamped entertainment. The first movies with Sean Connery and even Roger Moore are positively amusing to watch now – although I hasten to add, I really enjoy watching them over and over again. But with better story lines, better dialogue, and bigger budgets etc, the latest Bond movies with Daniel Craig are superb, and not just because of DC’s six-pack and oh-my-goodness-blue-swim-shorts beach scene.
But going back to JLC, I almost feel as if I am chastising a hero by criticising his novel, especially when one considers he is revered as one of finest British espionage writers of the twentieth century – Wiki citation here. And I’m hoping if you read this JLC you will understand where I’m coming from. It’s not a criticism of your talent, but more about how we as readers expect a different style of book these days. We need fast paced, action, gritty and no bone china tea scenes, and somebody has to die by page 8.
I don’t know if I will finish the book, but I will be watching at the movies.