This is unlike any of LeCarre's books I have read before-- a plot devoid of unexpected twists and turns, daring chases, thrilling fight scenes. Instead it focuses on rivalry between two intelligence units and planned action in South Germany. It would have been an easy job for the Circus: a can of film couriered from Helsinki to London. In the past the Circus handled all things political, while the Department dealt with matters military, but the Department has been dead since the War, its resources siphoned away. Now, one of their agents is dead, and vital evidence verifying the presence of Soviet missiles near the West German border is gone. John Avery is the Department's younger member and its last hope. Avery must infiltrate the East and restore his masters' former glory. John le Carré depicts a hopeless, grey world; reality in which man is just a pawn in the other’s game and promises are easily broken: totally depressing, but thoroughly absorbing. Again, he brilliantly doesn't spell out the ending, but you just know in your mind it's the worst possible outcome. I was emotionally spent after I had finished this book....Just brilliant!!!!!!