John Le Carre's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy for the third, maybe fourth, turn around the park, something to occupy the time this evening while people of limited resources gaze at the filthy Oscar proceedings. Look at that first sentence:
"The truth is if old Major Dover hadn't dropped dead at Taunton races Jim would never have come to Thursgood's at all."
You know immediately that you have fallen into good hands. That entire first chapter, introducing Jim Prideaux before the action proper begins, is a delight, with its delicious description of the sub-par private school Thursgood's and the restrained but touching empathy between the loner Prideaux (loners are a theme to come with the introduction in the next chapter of George Smiley) and the shy and lonely new boy Bill Roach.