Sunday, 12 December 2010

A Most Wanted Man by John le Carré


DATE READ: November 2010

NOTES: I have become a great fan of le Carré’s post-Cold War fiction – The Constant Gardener, Absolute Friends and The Mission Song. While I enjoyed A Most Wanted Man I found it to be a little uneven and didn’t hold my attention as much as his other books. The setting is Hamburg and he describes the Turkish community there vividly and realistically – explaining their hopes, anxieties and disappointments.

I think the main problem was the character of Issa – a young man who seemed to have appeared from nowhere and is espousing Islamic fervour. He reminded me of Prince Myshkin in The Idiot – a sort of innocent very much out of his depth. Le Carré has, I assume, deliberately made him an ambiguous character but for me he was the weak link in the plot. The banker Tommy Brue has various financial skeletons in his vaults left over from his late father’s regime and he seems to agree to help Issa and his attractive lawyer Annabel.

What the book describes well are the machinations and manipulation by various intelligence organisations. Their ruthlessness is terrifying – but in a very subtle way. They may appear to be on your side but in the final analysis all their loyalty is with their own organisation not with the people they are supposed to protect.

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