Books: A Master Hits His Old Pace

THE RUSSIA HOUSE by John le Carre; Knopf; 353 pages; $19.95

Under interrogation, quite a few members of John le Carre's vast and devoted reading public might confess a gnawing secret: the wish that the author would get on with his stories a bit more speedily than he has been doing for the past 15 or so years. Ever since Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974), in this view, Le Carre has been unduly shifting emphasis from action to atmospherics; his espionage plots remained splendidly inventive, but they arrived splintered into ambiguities worthy of Henry James. Which was fine, maybe, for those...

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