The Plot Spot plot summary:
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
John Le Carré (1974)
Chapter 1—Jim Prideaux came to the boy’s school at mid-term as a temporary replacement instructor. He had a severe hunchback from some prior injury but still showed his athletic nature. He quickly endeared himself to the boys and spoke the most natural French they had ever heard. But he had a harder time gaining the favor of an administration that had persistent questions regarding his qualifications. The boys were relieved when they learned that Mr. Prideaux would be returning for the fall term.
Chapter 2—George Smiley was a small, pudgy, middle-aged man who had a long history in the Circus. Unfortunately for him, he had met with a forced retirement about a year ago. He ran into Roddy Martindale one day and Roddy pressed him for dinner. Throughout the four long hours of dining together Smiley grew more and more tired of Roddy’s persistent efforts to draw him into gossip about the Circus.
Chapter 3—Even in retirement, Smiley maintained his habits from years of activity. He noted all the unfamiliar cars parked in his neighborhood. He knew it was precisely 117 steps from the start of his street to his front door. He knew which way each of the twelve doors in his house opened. Much of it was just habit, but he also knew that there were so many old enemies who might one day seek reckoning. As he entered his house after the dinner, he could tell that someone was waiting for him in the dark. Soon he was traveling with Peter Guillam to Oliver Lacon’s house. Lacon was a senior advisor to Whitehall on intelligence affairs.
Widener Library, Harvard, Cambridge, MA
Chapter 4—Smiley felt like he was having exactly the same conversation with Guillam as he had had during dinner. Only this time both participants were tight-lipped. When they arrived at the manor they were greeted by Lacon and Ricki Tarr. Smiley had worked on Tarr’s initiation into the Circus a dozen years earlier. Tarr had become a scalp-hunter—the hitman type of spy—and had always been a little too accident prone in his work for anyone’s liking. Now he had a proposition to offer.
Chapter 5—Tarr began telling Smiley what had happened about six month earlier. The service had been watching a Soviet trade delegation in Hong Kong when they noticed one of the delegates straying from the group. Tarr was sent in to see if the delegate was for sale. However, Tarr quickly surmised that the man was probably an agent. Turning double agents was beyond his authority so he relayed his analysis to London and booked a flight home. But before he left Tarr decided to burgle the man’s room.
Chapter 6—The agent’s wife was waiting inside the room. She was fed up with her marriage and relieved to have a shoulder to cry on. Over the course of the next several days she opened her heart and unloaded all her secrets. She knew that Tarr was an agent and she admitted that she was part of a husband and wife team. She had an arranged marriage that she had been forced to maintain far too long. Now she let Tarr knew everything. Almost everything.