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A Most Wanted Man Mass Market Paperback – July 27, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
Hamburg, Germany, a city known for its openness to foreigners, is infiltrated by a fractured young man from Chechnya who may (or may not) pose the next grave threat to Western civilization. Young Issa's improbable entry into Germany, tenuous connection to Islamic radicals, and inherited right to a large secret bank account held by British-owned Brue Freres, place him in the crosshairs of German, British and United States intelligence agencies, each with its own mysterious agenda. When young civil rights attorney Annabel petitions bank owner Tommy Brue to release the secret funds and help protect Issa from deportation, Annabel and Tommy find themselves caught up in a multi-layered plot that tests their willingness to sacrifice their reputations and livelihoods for the benefit of this enigmatic young man.
A Most Wanted Man succeeds not only as a sophisticated spy thriller, but also as a nuanced character study, provocative political commentary, and thoughtful examination of what it really means to be a moral human being. The writing is fluid throughout, and the well-constructed plot builds suspense even in the absence of violent action. The ending, though, left me with the impression that le Carre wound this tale so tightly that it jammed up at the climax and could not release properly. When this gets made into a movie, as seems to be the case with most of le Carre's books, the screen writer's challenge will be to devise a more fitting resolution to this fantastic build-up.
Since then, few of his novels have held me in quite the same way. They often seem vague, floundering, with no real direction. "A Most Wanted Man" has glimpses of that old Le Carre, though never as focused or riveting as in those earlier years. This time around, we are drawn into the mystery of a young man from Chechnya who's shown up in Germany. He bears marks of imprisonment and mental instability, and yet he seems to have valuable connections in the German banking industry. He receives pity and mercy from a banker and a female lawyer, while being hunted by shadowy figures from past and present. Along the way, Le Carre makes some biting commentary on the state of affairs in the modern Western world.
As expected, we are given in-depth looks at character and setting here, as well as the emotional and political structures that rise and fall around our desire for democracy. It's an interesting story, if not a bit windy in places. It was more cohesive than some of his recent efforts, but still lacked that beating heart that seemed to pulse in his earlier books--even faintly. I kept waiting for that resuscitation to happen here, but it never quite did so. After a few books of his that have showed this same lifelessness, I wondered why.
I went to Mr. Le Carre's website the other day and found this quote from him: "nothing that I write is authentic...Artists, in my experience, have very little centre. They fake. They are not the real thing." I strongly disagree with this statement.Read more ›
With the possible exception of one young German lawyer there are no revolutionary acts in John Le Carre's "A Most Wanted Man". Rather, we have high-level functionaries from German, British, and US intelligence agencies for whom deceit is the norm and truth plays, at best, a secondary role in acting in what is or may be in each country's national interest. In tone and substance this is not much different from Le Carre's Cold War fiction. The trick is to see whether the same cynical realism plays as well in today's `war on terror'. Le Carre's transition from the Cold War to the brave new world post-9/11 is excellent. The result is a book that is dark, cynical, and almost as rewarding as the best of Le Carre's earlier fiction.
The most wanted man in question is Issa. Issa is the product of the rape of a Chechnyan woman by a Red Army Colonel stationed in Chechnya. Raised by his father in Russia, Issa flees to the west after his father dies. Issa finds his way to Hamburg and despite his famished look it appears that Issa has connection to money and influence. He is also, apparently, a Muslim and because of his Chechnyan heritage he is identified by Russian intelligence agencies as a suspected terrorist. German, US, and British intelligence agencies based in Hamburg quickly identify him as a person of interest. The other main protagonists are Annabel Richter and Tommy Brue. Richter is a newly qualified attorney who has foregone work in private practice to work for a German civil rights organization created to assist immigrants and refugees in normalizing their status in Germany. Brue is a private banker whose bank is the depository of the significant funds Issa may lay claim to.
Le Carre does a wonderful job portraying Issa, Richter, and Brue.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Superb writing. I was surprised, positively, to learn that he authored The Constant Gardener.Published 1 month ago by anthro.student
Difficult book to get through, but fascinating story that resonates with today's challenges. Intrigue, Muslim identity in a white world, ruthless spies, greedy bankers and idealist... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Gina Bloom
Our book club found this book "enjoyable and timely" -- "entertaining as a great summer read. Read morePublished 5 months ago by BillR
Boring and inconclusive. Again a no ending end that passes for good writing craft. Save your money. Maybe I'm prejudiced because LeCarre has always bored me.Published 5 months ago by Maia