Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Night Manager

by John le Carr
429 pgs

John le Carré is one of those authors who has been writing for a long time, whom I’ve often thought I should read one of his books, but for whatever reason, never seemed to get around to picking one up. It wasn’t until I watched the mini-series adaptation of The Night Manager, which recently aired on AMC, that I was finally motivated enough to pick up one of his books and bump it up to the top of my “to-be-read” pile.

The Night Manager is a story about two men. Both are refined and well-polished. Jonathan Pine is a former British intelligence operative who has made a life for himself after his military service working as the night manager at one of the top hotels in Zurich. Richard Roper is a British arms merchant, operating in the Bahamas, selling weapons on a massive scale to the highest bidders. He’s formed a world-wide network of shell companies to operate behind, and has surrounded himself with a protective retinue of former agents and operatives, who have kept him beyond the reach of the CIA and its counterpart in the UK.

The two men’s paths cross late one snowy night when Roper, his mistress, and a dozen or so others who protect him and his interests check in to Pine’s hotel. Pine knows of Roper, and considers him “the worst man in the world.” Pine used to be in love with a woman who came to know too much about Roper and his operations, and who paid the ultimate price because of it.

Pine resolves to find a way to expose Roper and if possible, to dismantle his extensive operations. Working with U.S. handlers, he devises a way to insert himself into Roper’s inner circle and begins to feed his handlers with information that may one day bring Roper down.

The book was enjoyable. Le Carré used to work for the British Secret Intelligence Service and his background is evident in the level of detail he works into his story. But I struggled with the pacing and excitement level of the book. Even near the end, when spy stories usually get to the point where I can’t put them down, I never felt that way with this one. I’ll probably try a few more of his books eventually. Maybe some of his earlier ones dealing with the Cold War. But this one didn’t make me want to rush to read his entire back catalog.


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