From Publishers Weekly
When boxer Melik Oktay and his mother, both Turkish Muslims living in Hamburg, take in a street person calling himself Issa at the start of this morally complex thriller from le Carré (The Mission Song
), they set off a chain of events implicating intelligence agencies from three countries. Issa, who claims to be a Muslim medical student, is, in fact, a wanted terrorist and the son of Grigori Karpov, a Red Army colonel whose considerable assets are concealed in a mysterious portfolio at a Hamburg bank. Tommy Brue, a stereotypical flawed everyman caught up in the machinations of spies and counterspies, enters the plot when Issa's attorney seeks to claim these assets. The book works best in its depiction of the rivalries besetting even post-9/11 intelligence agencies that should be allies, but none of the characters is as memorable as George Smiley or Magnus Pym. Still, even a lesser le Carré effort is far above the common run of thrillers. (Oct.)
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While this novel may be le Carre's first take on espionage in Europe after the Cold War, critics could not be more divided over its quality. Alan Furst, himself one of the greats of the genre, opines that A Most Wanted Man
might be one of the author's best, not for its content so much as for its technical brilliance. But other reviewers panned the work, arguing that le Carre's outrage over recent American intelligence practices distorts the plot and renders many of the characters as mere cliches. Perhaps the consensus is that A Most Wanted Man
is an enjoyable le Carre novel (and therefore much better than most thrillers)—but far from his best.
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