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Q: Are "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" and "The Tailor of Panama" related, story-wise? I know they're by the same author.

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Author: 
Adam Thomlison / TV Media

John le Carré's plots are twisting and subtle, but if there's a connection between these two of his books, it would have to be extra subtle -- nothing seems to link the two besides the word in the title.

In "The Tailor of Panama," the central character is, in fact, a tailor (also a confidence trickster and sort-of spy).

The "Tailor" in the title of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," on the other hand, is just a reference to the old nursery rhyme and counting song ("Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief"). It's used in the story to give code names to potential traitors within the British secret service.

That book, however, is a part of a larger universe within le Carré's work. Its protagonist, George Smiley, features in eight of the author's novels, and "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" is the first in a trilogy of novels about Smiley's search for a particular enemy agent.

 

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