The second audio book I listened to while moving, and unfortunately it is also a secondary or lesser Le Carre. On the plus side, I like the things Le Carre does with chronology and his increasingly free-form way of ordering the plot of his stories. As always the characters are well drawn, and they have some surprisingly emotional and well done pay-offs in the third act. I'm also pleased to say that 80 year old Le Carre has kept up with technology to an impressive degree, and that in general he is a real inspiration in being able to write and produce like this at his age. Even more generally, I like this book as one in a sequence of Le Carre books that paint a continuing or evolving picture of Britain and of the West. He reminds me of Everclear (bare with me here), in that consuming the whole of their work adds a dimension that any one individual work lacks. It is neat to hear Everclear's songs evolve over a 20 year period, and it is neat to see Le Carre's thoughts on his society evolve over his X-decade long productive career.
My complaints about this book are mostly the same as with the Constant Gardner. This is mostly because the plot is way too much like the Constant Gardner. As a long time Le Carre reader, the arc of the story becomes increasingly clear about midway through the book. And as with Constant Gardner, there is a sort of martyr fetish which focuses more on being morally pure than on being effective or avoiding obvious pitfalls. The injunction is to be "as wise as serpents and innocent as doves", and I feel like Le Carre is forgetting the first part. For instance, there is a key moment late in the book where the main character could simply *lie*, but does not think of it or chooses not to. It would have made him much more effective in his mission and avoided all sorts of trouble, but eh, then it doesn't have the pathos that Le Carre wants. And I feel that ultimately that it was not true to the character, who should be adept at lying, or to his motivations, which are not so dire or baked-in as they were with protagonist of The Constant Gardener. Hmmm. Or maybe I am wrong, maybe a high-level civil servant like that would not be so willing to just straight up fabricate. But he should be, if he was taking the situation at all as seriously as it warrants. Anyway. If Le Carre is reading this, please have a more skilled and clear-thinking protagonist in your next book.