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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Updated 11:28 a.m.:

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill R...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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John le Carré’s latest lacks urgency but still absorbs


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For readers unfamiliar with author John le Carré, here’s a primer: He is best known for his British Cold War spy novels, including “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” (Victor Gollancz & Pan, 1963) and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (Hodder & Stoughton, 1974). His fictional British intelligence officer, George Smiley, is probably the most famous literary master spy of the past 50 years.

Le Carré has won numerous awards and seen several of his novels turned into movies and miniseries. Since the end of the Cold War, le Carré has concentrated on writing about serious global problems, such as money laundering, terrorism and corporate greed.

In his latest book, “A Delicate Truth” (Viking, 2013), le Carré first describes a secret mission – codenamed “Wildlife” – from the point of view of a mid-level British civil servant, who goes by the alias “Paul.” Wildlife is assigned to capture a dangerous arms smuggler.

Readers then meet a foreign service agent, Toby Bell, who learns about the mission three years later while working for a British cabinet minister. In the meantime, “Paul,” whose real name is Sir Christopher Probyn, has retired. One of the British soldiers involved in the original mission contacts Probyn, claiming that the mission was a fraud, a failure and a tragedy.

What can and should Bell and Probyn do about the truth of Wildlife? What would public disclosure cost each man?

The first half of “A Delicate Truth” is a rather plodding read – a surprise, especially given how quickly le Carré’s earlier books drew me in. The characters aren’t gripping, there are too many holes about Wildlife and the history and exposition of Bell’s service career prove, frankly, boring.

But the second half of the book more than makes up for what’s lacking at the beginning, providing most of the thrills and excitement of le Carré’s earlier novels.

The characters face difficult moral dilemmas, race to uncover the truth and fear for their lives. Familiar le Carré themes happily come into play, such as loyalty to self and truth versus loyalty to duty and country.

Despite the fact that “A Delicate Truth” is well-written and generally absorbing, le Carré’s topics of gun-running and terrorism are simply not as captivating as his earlier Cold War themes, largely because there is not as much at stake.

I recommend “A Delicate Truth” for fiction-oriented book clubs, particularly those that enjoy spy and mystery novels. The average reader, however, may not find it as compelling as le Carré’s earlier works.

Leslie Ashmore, a longtime Mountain View resident, belongs to two book clubs.

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