A counter-terror operation, codenamed Wildlife, is being mounted in Britain’s most precious colony, Gibraltar. Its purpose: to capture and abduct a high-value jihadist arms-buyer. Its authors: an ambitious Foreign Office Minister, and a private defence contractor who is also his close friend. So delicate is the operation that even the Minister’s Private Secretary, Toby Bell, is not cleared for it. Suspecting a disastrous conspiracy, Toby attempts to forestall it, but is promptly posted overseas.
Three years on, summoned by Sir Christopher Probyn, retired British diplomat, to his decaying Cornish manor house, and closely watched by Probyn’s daughter Emily, Toby must choose between his conscience and his duty to the Service. If the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing, how can he keep silent?
John le Carre was born in 1931 and attended the universities of Bern and Oxford. He taught at Eton and served briefly in British Intelligence during the Cold War. For the last fifty years he has lived by his pen. He divides his time between London and Cornwall.
©2013 John le Carré (P)2013 Penguin Books Limited
"One of those writers who will be read a century from now" (Robert Harris)
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"Le Carre on top form again!"
This is the best audiobook I've heard so far.
This is a thrilling book written by an author who knows how to breathe life into those 24-hour rolling stories that make us immune to the most appalling news items. His combat-weary, traumatised ex-soldiers can't live with their war crimes. Whistle-blowers find out the hard way how arms traders and politicians cover their tracks while the reader can't quite believe how they get away with it as the crimes stack up one on top of the other. I didn't want this book to end.
"A shame it had to end"
Yes I would listen to this book again in the future. It is very subtle and it would easily take a second pass and be interesting.
It is an excellent le Carre told in the usual gripping way
I enjoyed John left Carrie's performance with it's variety of pace and tone.
Some secrets must be kept
For me this was a very enjoyable return to le Carre's masterful telling of a tale
I have been a fan of Le Carre for a long time and have read all his work, but this was my first audio experience and I have to say that I had to grit my teeth to see it though. Nothing wrong with the story, classic style, just did not listen well.
Toby was stoic and fitted my mental image
let someone else read
"Is there something wrong?"
I can't put my finger on it, but it just doesn't have that umph about it that tinker Taylor, smileys people and others had. There was a lot going on but it just didn't seem resolved to me
I can't honestly say le carre is a better author than I could ever hope to be but it just felt like a sparkle was missing
His voice - it's just perfect for his stories
Yes relisten and reread his other novels
Can't see this turning into a film
"A resounding return to excellent story telling."
This is in the top 10% of audiobooks I have enjoyed.
All the characters are well formed and believable. It would be invidious to choose.
John le Carre always does a good job of reading his own work. For some reason this seemed better than other recent releases.
This book gripped me despite the usual le Carre leisured pace. As it gathered pace towards the end I found it hard to take a break from listening, I found myself driving slower to lengthen the daily commute just so I could hear more.
"A great book brilliantly read."
I am always impressed by John le Carré's amazing ear for dialogue. He barely needs to describe characters because they spring to life when they speak.
He reads wonderfully, bringing out all the nuances in any register of language.
He brings his withering contempt to bear on the cynicism and vanity of politicians and the moral vacuum occupied by Private Arms Contractors and mercenaries. The flawed protagonists, cursed with empathy and principle seem real and dangerously vulnerable.
He allows the villains to justify their actions eloquently. The plausible pragmatists and soapy civil servants with their evasions and fluent falsehoods are also well drawn.
The Cornish episodes are a striking contrast to the chilling control freakery of Government.
The author's reading is a revelation. His ability to inhabit so many characters with their quirks and individuality must derive from his linguistic gifts and a very musical ear.
An outstanding audio book. Recommended.
"Running on empty?"
The broadsheet reviews were generally upbeat along "return to form" lines so I was keen to read - or rather "hear" - it but I was disappointed. Different worlds, of course, but what felt real in the Smiley days, now appears anachronistic, over-familiar and, in so many ways, incredibly stupid. The central characters, by and large, are modelled to fit the plot to a degree that comes at some expense to their credibility and they are marvellously ill-adapted for the jobs they do - like over-sensitive surgeons, who can't bear the sight of blood! The first half the book examines the central event from several points of view and is not without longueurs. The tragic episode at its heart feels too slight to generate the consequences that follow from it. The denouement is frankly hackneyed. That said, any offering by a craftsman of this calibre is always going to be a classy product and this is no exception. His narration too is generally excellent.
"Classic le Carre"
Absolutely, I just loved the plot & John Le Carre's reading & characterisation made the listening all the more memorable.
The ending! I won't say anymore as I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't listened! I just loved it all though.
Mr le Carre should read all his own books, in fact he should read others too for us. I found his characterisation of all the "players" in the story wonderful. I had the feeling that he was "speaking" his characters just as he had heard them in his fertile writer's mind as he wrote the book.
ABSOLUTELY, except I had work & sleep, drat it!
Wonderful classic le Carre, scarily real to our life & times. If you thought all the political thriller plot lines had disappeared with the fall of the Iron Curtain, then think again. The premise of this book is frightening, are we really going back to the 16th century Star Chamber in the 21st?
"Le Carré at his best"
Brilliant and cynical beyond measure. Le Carré's reading is a bit hesitant at the beginning, I thought, but once he got into the story he is brilliant. He's particularly good because he created the characters so he really knows how he wants them to sound. The story is pure Le Carré, and digs deep into some of our greatest fears of government and its links with the United States and with business. And of course basically, like a lot of Le Carré's books, the story is about personal betrayal and loyalty. The story unfolds very slowly and if you like high drama this is not for you. But if you worry about how the government spends its money and whether Britain is involved in extraordinary rendition and its consequences for our consciences this is the book for you.
"He has still got it"
Many people will favour John Le Carre's earlier cold war spy novels, especially the matchless Smiley stories. But Le Carre's war-on-terror works replace dignified despair with searing fury at the intermingling of corporate agendas and political corruption.
I found this more satisfying than the last couple of books. It is pacy and with a series of realistic but typically decent protagonists doing their best to uphold a romantic view of "what is right" amidst messy, sordid complexity. The ending is perhaps predictable given the stance that the author takes so consistently, but is, as always, free of schmaltz or unbelievable twists.
Le Carre himself reads it with polish and verve; his voice rich and full.
A typically satisfying, absorbing tale from one of our very finest writers.
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