At first glance, you might assume that The Lamplighters is a novel about stoic, lonely men smoking pipes and sharing tins of soup in the middle of the ocean. But it is just as much about the women and families these men leave behind when they depart for their lighthouse shifts. There are secrets untold, emotions hidden, and the unhappiness that festers when one feels trapped. The novel moves quickly in brief chapters that jump in time and create a haunting feeling—one both dreamlike and tragic.
Far removed from the world of George Smiley and British intelligence is The Little Drummer Girl, an ambitious and morally complex standalone novel from John le Carré. His protagonist is Charlie, a young actress whose talent and passionate political bent draws the attention of a cabal of Israeli spies. They coerce her into taking a role in “the theater of the real” in order to catch a bomber, and she’s quickly immersed in a world of danger and consummate paranoia. As she dives deeper into her role, Charlie’s sympathies and motivations begin to bleed together in thrilling, painful fashion. Le Carré tackles intensely political subject matter with nuance, and he boldly embraces the humanity and ugliness in each of his characters.
Published serially in 1946, The Honjin Murders is an influential and cunningly crafted mystery classic. With this novel, Yokomizo introduces his most famous creation, amateur detective Kosuke Kindaichi (who would appear in over seventy of his novels), and codifies his unique fusion of western mystery trappings and Japanese literary aesthetics. In The Honjin Murders, Yokomizo wastes no time in constructing an elaborate world populated with unique characters and abundant clues, devising a locked-room mystery with a truly ingenious solution. This is a lean novel with no ink wasted, but it retains a powerful atmosphere thanks to Yokomizo’s visual imagination and rich eye for detail.