You're not to disturb, annoy or offend. They're walking on a knife edge out there, anything could tilt the balance.' Missing: one junior diplomat and 43 of the British Embassy's most confidential files. The timing is alarmingly significant: with neo-Nazi riots and radical student demonstrations, the threat to Germany's security is all too apparent. Britain's own Alan Turner is sent in, with instructions to tread carefully at all costs. But will he find the missing man and the files before the political situation erupts?
Kenneth Haigh stars as Alan Turner with Bernard Hepton as Rawley Bradfield in a fast-paced, explosive dramatisation of John le Carré's acclaimed spy story, dramatised by René Basilico.
©2012 John le Carre (P)2012 AudioGO Ltd
Painter, musician, bibliophile...
Turn back the clock to 1968. Alan Turner of the British foreign office has been sent to Bonn, city of fog and Beethoven, to investigate what has become of Leo Harting, a minor official. It appears he has disappeared along with some sensitive files. There are grave suspicions that Harting may be linked to neo-fascist agitator, Klaus Karfeld.
With his brusque manner and all-to-direct questions, it doesn't take long for Turner to get right up the noses of those involved, especially the head of embassy security, Rawley Bradfield. He also attracts unwanted attention from Ludwig Siebkron, head of the German Interior Ministry.
Was Harting a hard-working office drone? A bit of a lad who liked the occasional foray into Cologne's night life? A manipulative master of misdirection? A true believer working against American and British interests? As Turner discovers the truth is, as ever, more complicated that anyone suspects.
I listened to this for a diversion during a long commute. It's a time capsule, with the style and attitudes pretty much what one would expect of that era. Hepton and Haigh were good in their roles. The setting may be of added interest if one is familiar with Bonn and Bad Godesberg.
"Good but not classic Le Carre"
Le Carre is a consistently adept storyteller and his earlier novels now have the added appeal of nostalgia, in this case the civil unrest of the late 1960s. This dramatisation is unusual for a Le Carre spy story both in terms of its protagonist and adversary. The protagonist comes across as far more working class than the usual public school Le Carre spies and the adversary, a resurgent neo-Nazi group, is far less plausible than the Moscow Centre characters we are familiar with from the other novels. But it’s an engaging story and is well worth a listen.
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