The Constant Gardner Rothdas book review RSS
3.0 Stars

An unusual Le Carre novel. The novel is not really a mystery, since the central conspiracy and murder are both revealed/strongly indicated early on in the novel. And it is not really a thriller either. Many of the "spy" aspects of the story are told post-facto; the story simply moves to a new location/interview, and how it reached that point is only mentioned in passing during the interview. And Justin (the protagonist) is mostly unkillable, since his position in society protects him. Instead the novel is more of a love story, or a grief story, set amidst different varieties of modern corruption and corporate power. The corruption ranges from gray to black; and in forms from the soft evil of the HR drone to the slightly harder evil of the contract killer/torturer. There are a host of different justifications for the corruption, some quite convincing, and even the central, instigating crime of the book is something that takes a few sentences to explain and that many people would be largely ok with. Which I guess is something of its point.

It's also kind of a disspiriting book, even by Le Carre standards. Justin is wealthy, educated, connected, has police allies and a world wide network of friends and family, and even he has difficulty fighting back against the security services. The ending is also kind of a punch in the gut (zing!); I can see why the movie adaptation had to soften it. Reading Le Carre definitely prepares you for the evening news. CIA torture report is released, and the only one prosecuted is a CIA whistleblower? Yep, no surprises there.

In any case, I do always enjoy the character duets that Le Carre sets up. He has wonderful interviews/investigations between a large variety of characters, and the characterization and texture of these interviews is always a pleasure to read.