Books: Playing Tigers

TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY

by JOHN LE CARRÉ 355 pages. Knopf. $7.95

The subject at hand is not who put the overalls in Mrs. Murphy's existential chowder but who is the mole in Mr. Control's Circus. Control, as John le Carré followers know, is the director of British Intelligence. The Circus is his sad collection of far-flung agents, now for the most part disabused old cold warriors who stay numb in order to survive or glumly hope that "somewhere the path of pain and betrayal must end." And a mole? A mole, of course, is a turncoat working for a foreign government....

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