Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: The Little Drummer Girl

The Little Drummer Girl
The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carré

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read several of John le Carré's works, I feel that his particular forte is creating for his characters environments that have an amazing amount of stress. He ratchets up drama by putting his characters in extremely difficult situations and then continuing to crank up the stress level. Of his novels that I have read, the previous epitome of these super stress levels was The Spy Who Came In from the Cold. However, I think the stress in The Little Drummer Girl tops even that work.

The title character in this book is Charlie, a aspiring English stage actress. While on holiday in Greece with some fellow struggling thespians, the young Charlie encounters a tall, dark and handsome stranger who turns out to be an Israeli spy. The job of Gadi Becker (aka Joseph) is to convince Charlie to take an unique acting opportunity. The Israelis know that Charlie has left-leaning views and through a previous boyfriend has had encounters with members of some extremist groups. The Israeli groups's plan is to have Joseph emulate a captured Palestinian terrorist known as Michel. In this role, he will train Charlie to infiltrate a leftist terrorist group with links to Palestinians. The Israeli spy group's ultimate goal is Michel's brother Khalil who is a major leader in a Palestinian terrorist group. Charlie accepts the opportunity and delves into what she terms "the theater of the real."

I think that the book does a great job of presenting both sides of the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis. There is much doubt as to Charlie's true sympathies. In the end, the central question of the book is not on which side of the conflict Charlie will end up or if her mission will be a success. The question is if Charlie will just survive the mission with her sanity intact.

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