Maybe one of the best books since the Spy Who Came In From the Cold. A skillfully woven tail of deceit, corruption and injustice. Very well read.
Although an avid reader, I didn't think le Carre would be my cup of tea... but this book was so amazing that now I'll be looking for his other well-known best sellers. A most unusual protagonist, and an even more unusual tale. Even while describing the most horrendous of human capabilities, the writing is almost lyrical, and the story unfolds slowly and tantalizingly. Kept me up late to finish it.
In allegory, this book never happened. A part-time interpreter for the British government is loaned out for a hush-hush operation. He just happened to be a displaced Anglo-African conversant with the multi-linguistics of Central Africa: Eastern Congo to be more specific. Hes the internal spy at a meeting of quasi-government officials who are trying to broker with several Congolese leaders to consummate a coop sponsored by big money players who are seemingly headed by a highly suspect peer of England. So much for clean government! Most of this novel is a regurgitation of the boring details of the conference. Now it gets more than a trifle incredulous. Our hero, amid superlative security precautions, manages to swap blank tapes and notebooks for the real thing, and then smuggles them out in his pants. All materials were to be thrown into a burn bag which was never checked, not were participants screened physically. So now hero attempts to broker on his own to stop the coup. With whom, you ask? Why with the very people who are involved in the alleged coup. Needless to say it turns out badly; to find out just how badly youll have to read the novel. I will hint this, however; its a typical Honest John finale.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Bestseller le Carré (The Constant Gardener) brings a light touch to his 20th novel, the engrossing tale of an idealistic and naïve British interpreter, Bruno "Salvo" Salvador. The 29-year-old Congo native's mixed parentage puts him in a tentative position in society, despite his being married to an attractive upper-class white Englishwoman, who's a celebrity journalist. Salvo's genius with languages has led to steady work from a variety of employers, including covert assignments from shadowy government entities. One such job enmeshes the interpreter in an ambitious scheme to finally bring stability to the much victimized Congo, and Salvo's personal stake in the outcome tests his professionalism and ethics. Amid the bursts of humor, le Carré convincingly conveys his empathy for the African nation and his cynicism at its would-be saviors, both home-grown patriots and global powers seeking to impose democracy on a failed state. Especially impressive is the character of Salvo, who's a far cry from the author's typical protagonist but is just as plausible