John Le Carré was born in Poole, Dorset, on October 19, 1931. "The premier spy novelist of his time. Perhaps of all time," is what Time magazine called him then. He began his writing career while in the British Foreign Service. Unable to use his real name (David John Moore Cornwell) because the Foreign Office forbids its staff to publish under their own namess, he adopted the name le Carré (French for "the square") which he claims to have seen printed on a London shop window.
As he states, "When I first began writing, Ian Fleming was riding high and the picture of the spy was that of a character who could have affairs with women, drive a fast car, who used gadgetry and gimmickry to escape." What le Carré has brought back is the realist spy story.
In this novel, Le Carré's world-famous hero, George Smiley has become chief of the battered British Secret Service. The betrayal of a Soviet double agent has riddled the spy network. Smiley wants revenge. He chooses his weapon: "The Honourable Schoolboy," Jerry Westerby, a passionate lover and a reckless, seasoned secret agent. He points him east to Hong Kong, then to Thailand and Cambodia. So begins the terrifying game. . .
The author, who has elevated the spy novel to its highest point, is a demon on research. For the Honourable Schoolboy, he made five trips to Southeast Asia. Pinned down by automatic weapons fire in Cambodia, he dived under a car and coolly noted his impressions on file cards.
In this novel, the readers can obtain some clear interesting concepts and pictures of the Hong Kong landscape and people's styles in 1970s, like:
John Le Carré caught the characteristics of the wealthy class in the Mid-level.
The author picked Po Toi Island to be the site of a climactic encounter in this novel. This island, resident to only a handful of people, is comprised of a group of islands located at the southernmost area of the territory of Hong Kong, southeast of Stanley on Hong Kong Island. The place is known for a large rock resembling a river snail, and under that rock is a den with rock carvings shaped by wind and rain. Po Toi is full of interesting and peculiar sights that often catch the attention of curious visitors. The Deserted House of Mo's Family and the nearby Coffin Rock are among the many attractions. The south of the island features many strange rock formations, including the Calligraphy by Ghosts, Buddha's Hands Rocks, and Monk Rocks. At the pier, there is an abundance of open-air restaurants that serve extremely delicious seafood. Most Hong Kong residents hire a junk or boat to Po Toi on weekends. The kaido, small boats that act as water-taxis, are available from Aberdeen and Stanley on Sundays and public holidays for about HK$40 per person round-trip.