Theme: YOUR SPYING EYES. The first part of each theme answer [identified with an *] is a word from the title of a recent movie based on a classic spy novel from 1974. These four words, in order, each representing a line of work, complete the title: TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY. In the story, the British secret agent called out of retirement for this adventure is George Smiley, played by Gary Oldman in the movie. Spying is a dangerous business, but it's his *.
18. A *"Peter Pan" pixie : TINKERBELL. Of course, the tiny winged lady from Neverland. Once upon a time, a TINKER plied the now obsolete trade of mending household utensils. This lost itinerant profession dates back to at least the 13th century. Hence the verb "tinker" meaning to fiddle around with something. This is the only clue in which the root word has a different meaning in the answer and the title, in case you give a tinker's dam.
24. A *Not mass-produced : TAILORMADE. What does a TAILOR make? Clothing. But the phrase is loosely applied to anything not off-the-shelf.
52. A *1962 Shirelles hit : SOLDIER BOY. A soldier is a trained professional killer, prepared to go to war, any time, anywhere. Here is the song - twelve years older than the novel. It sounds pretty awful now.
61. A *Hand-held telescopes : SPYGLASSES. These aren't used exclusively by spies, and are unlikely to give you x-ray vision, but do allow you to espy something at a distance. So maybe the root word is a little different in answer and title. Hmmm.
And the centrally-placed unifier -
39. A Author of the 1974 novel found in the starts of the starred answers : LECARRE. British novelist David John Moore Cornwell uses the pen name John le Carré. I don't know why.
Hi gang, JazzBumpa here. I've never been good at espionage, but I do enjoy a good story. Let's see where this one takes us.
Interesting overexposure resulting from low probability synchronicity. Granddaughters Amanda (left) and Samantha (right) are in the penultimate positions. Sam's top provides the (very washed out) yellow.