Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Veggie Books: The Human Factor


Castle and Davis work in Intelligence. They deal with South Africa, which involves checking a few cables, taking a few phone calls. Occasionally top secret information comes their way, but it's not very exciting stuff and nobody takes security too seriously.

Tension slowly begins to build between them as Head Office seems certain there's a spy in their office. Castle is nearing retirement, happily married; Davis drinks too much and has passionate thoughts about one of the secretaries. They have long conversations about what Head Office might be doing, how paranoia is affecting the world nowadays. Davis tells Castle about some suspect confidential information he came into:

'Better not let them know you told me, all the same.'

'Old man, you've caught the disease of the profession, suspicion.'

'Yes. It's a bad infection. That's why I'm thinking of getting out.'

'To grow vegetables?'

'To do anything non-secret and unimportant and relatively harmless. I nearly joined an advertising agency once.'

'Be careful. They have secrets too - trade secrets.'

The telephone rang at the head of the stairs.


You just know it's not going to end well. Although, and I always find this when I'm reading Greene, you do still hope for these trapped, sweaty men, battling against the worst forms of quietly menacing bureaucracy that has no place for their emotions.

Great book. Yeah. And it contains the best depiction of a dog I think I've ever read. Complete dog-dom in a few lines.

As an aside, why are the covers for Greene novels always so grey and boring? Anyone got a good cover for one of his novels? All of mine are awful.

Later on this week I'm going to take a look back over the veggie books I've picked and choose my favourites. I've read some corkers, that's for sure.

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