58. ‘The Little Drummer Girl’ by John Le Carre

I did warn you I might embark on a John Le Carre spree! I had the intention of reading all the Smiley books in order, having purely by chance started with the first, but I found this, the sun was shining, the garden beckoned…and there you go, best intentions and all that.

And it is a smashing read. It was first published in 1983, which doesn’t seem that long ago to an old bird like me, and Mum read it in June 1984. I did say in the last post that Mum occasionally annotated the inside cover of her books with the characters to stop her getting confused, and indeed she has done exactly that in this volume.

From the back cover – ‘the scene is England, West Germany, Greece, Israel and the Palestinian camps. The hunter is the fiercely passionate Kurtz, an officer with Israeli Intelligence. His quarry is a Palestinian, cunning, ruthless, stateless and nameless, whose primitive bombs have slaughtered Jews across Europe. Between the hunter and the hunted, a snare is laid. She is Charlie, a young English actress, perilously alone on a mission to the dark heart of international terrorism’.

Charlie is a beautiful, wayward and headstrong red-head; and the book is split into two definite parts – the creation of the character she has to play to capture the Palestinian, and her mission. The details are exquisite, and the atmosphere is convincing, although these days, of course, it seems a little dated – but it is a novel of its time. Along the way we are treated to a love story as well, between her and her ‘handler’, and some excellent insights into the fraught politics of the Middle East in the late Seventies/early Eighties.

Which I am not going to delve into!

All in all, I found this to be an engrossing and compelling read. I’m surprised Mum didn’t read it a second time; it made ‘the cut’ into the books she kept when she moved out of the house into a flat, so that must have been her intention, and I have no hesitation in recommending it to you.

As always, I’m looking for a new home for this 36 year old Pan edition – if it sounds like something you would enjoy, please get in touch either here or through the Facebook or Instagram pages and I will gift it forward to you with much love from Mum and I – if it’s already been claimed, I still recommend you find a copy if a good old fashioned psychological and political spy thriller is your cup of tea!



and excitingly, I finally gave in and created a Twitter account which I THINK you’ll find at


Becky X