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A Most Wanted Man [Paperback]

John Le Carré
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

25 Jun 2009

A half-starved young Russian man in a long black overcoat is smuggled into Hamburg at dead of night. He has an improbable amount of cash secreted in a purse round his neck. He is a devout Muslim. Or is he? He says his name is Issa.

Annabel, an idealistic young German civil rights lawyer, determines to save Issa from deportation. Soon her client's survival becomes more important to her than her own career. In pursuit of Issa's mysterious past, she confronts the incongruous Tommy Brue, the sixty-year-old scion of Brue Frères, a failing British bank based in Hamburg.

A triangle of impossible loves is born.

Meanwhile, scenting a sure kill in the so-called War on Terror, the spies of three nations converge upon the innocents.

Poignant, compassionate, peopled with characters the reader never wants to let go, A MOST WANTED MAN is alive with humour, yet prickles with tension until the last heart-stopping page. It is also a work of deep humanity, and uncommon relevance to our times.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; 1st Paperback edition (25 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340977086
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340977088
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John le Carré was born in 1931. His third novel, THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, secured him a wide reputation which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, THE HONOURABLE SCHOOLBOY and SMILEY'S PEOPLE. His other novels include THE CONSTANT GARDENER, A MOST WANTED MAN and OUR KIND OF TRAITOR.

Product Description


One of the most sophisticated fictional responses to the war on terror yet published. ( Guardian )

A first-class novel about the most pressing moral and political concerns of our time. ( Telegraph )

le Carré is back on form in a cracking terror plot. ( Daily Express )

Wry, warm, compassionate. ( The Times )

A cautionary tale, rich in humanity, from a master storyteller back at the peak of his powers. ( Glasgow Herald )

This is black, brilliant, hypnotic stuff and yet another reason to count le Carré among this country's very finest contemporary writers. Unhesitatingly recommended. ( Independent on Sunday )

Book Description

A wonderful, classic le Carré now reissued in a stunning new package.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
132 of 141 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Return of the Master 27 Sep 2008
By G. J. Oxley TOP 500 REVIEWER
Unbelievable to think it now, but the feeling a few years ago was that Le Carre and his fellow spy writers would struggle for storylines with the collapse of communism and the end of the Cold War. But the numerous civil wars around the world, particularly in Africa and Asia, and the west's War on Terror have proven a most fertile ground for new plots.

All the action in `A Most Wanted Man' takes place in Hamburg, where an emaciated, illegal Chechen muslim immigrant, Issa Karpov, persuades a Turkish mother and son to take him in after following the son around for a few days.

Issa bears all the signs of having recently been tortured and he's a wanted man both in Sweden (from where he was smuggled in) and his homeland. Helped by human rights lawyer Annabel Richter, and Tommy Brue, a Scottish private banker who operates in the city, he apparently wishes only to qualify as a doctor to help those back home. He appears to be the son of a deceased Russian gangster, who opened an illegal account (a `Lipizzaner' - like the horse) with Tommy Brue's father back in Vienna before the bank relocated. And now Issa wishes to use that 'bad' money (some $12.5m) for the greater good. The German, British and American secret services are aware of him and in turn, wish to use HIM as bait to capture a bigger prize...

The plot is as complex as we've come to expect from the grand old man, and the humour just as sly and knowing. The motives of the leading players are deliberately hidden and almost right up until the very last page we're clueless as to how it will all end up.

He's great at portraying the duplicity, triplicity and even quadriplicity (I almost certainly made at least one of these words up!) in the spy world, and how no one can be taken at face value.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Espionage through the eyes of the Master 24 Oct 2008
By Julia Flyte TOP 50 REVIEWER
Afficiandos of the John le Carre spy novel come in at least three basic types. There are many who savor a contemporary, stylish and intriguing plot with fully drawn (and inevitably fallible) characters. There are those who simply appreciate good writing. And then some who expect both.

None will be disappointed by A Most Wanted Man.

In this, his 21st novel, Le Carre returns to his roots: to a post-Cold War Germany and the internecine warfare of competing intelligence agencies (both domestic and international), balancing the conflicting consequences of illegal immigration, religion and the War on Terror.

Le Carre's unique literary style - long, complex, descriptive word paintings (the antithesis of modern, crisp journalism and airport potboiler novels) - draws the reader in from the first page. All his characters, whether principal players or bit parts, emerge fully rounded in all their capabilities and flaws. Each is human, realistic and memorable.

The plot is tantalising. Who is "this most wanted man"? Whom are we to like? Whom to trust? Apparently innocent bystanders, struggling to survive in the new Europe and wanting to believe in their future, are drawn into the action and suffer collateral damage in a contest that is superficially about terrorism but in reality between competing, morally corrupt intelligence agencies - the cream of the espiocracy.

Le Carre slowly, carefully unpeels his onion, layer by layer, to expose its inevitable, venal core. However in his world of deceit, disillusion and bureaucratic testosterone there are ultimately no winners, no solutions, no happy endings. Le Carre's world is not like that.
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57 of 63 people found the following review helpful
Despite the fact that he made his reputation writing about the duels between NATO intelligence agencies and their Soviet counterparts, no-one could accuse John Le Carré of failing to adapt to the end of the Cold War: with books like The Constant Gardener, Single & Single and The Mission Song (Bookgeeks review), he has explored international money laundering, the Russian mafia, corrupt pharmaceutical research in Africa and foreign involvement in the interminable civil wars of the Congo. Now, with A Most Wanted Man, we have his first true post-9/11 novel, an examination of the differing responses of Western intelligence agencies to the threats posted by Islamist terrorism.

The setting is Hamburg, present day. The lives of a Turkish family, Melik and his mother Leyla, are interrupted by the arrival of Issa, a scrawny refugee, on the run from the Swedish authorities and bearing the scars of torture from incarceration in a Turkish prison. Issa claims to be a devout Muslim, fleeing from the fighting in Chechnya, but parts of his story don't stack up: he doesn't speak the Chechynyan language, and aspects of his religious practice are distinctly awry. Troubled by the presence of this mysterious waif, Melik and Leyla contact asylum specialists Sanctuary North, and get Issa a lawyer to try and regularise his immigration status. Issa explains to his lawyer, Annabel Richter, that he carries in a pouch round his neck the means to access a bank account at the private bank of Brue Freres plc, which will enable him to pursue his dream of studying to be a doctor. Thus we meet Tommy Brue, last of his line, a banker to the wealthy and powerful, saddled with his father's legacy in more ways than one.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Updated spy story. Excellent detail about Germany, UK and US
This is a new approach from his previous spy stories but there is a depth of detail about terrorism and how the major powers (might?) interact in countering it. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Peter Burke
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
He is so far ahead of any other writer, that I know of, in this type of genre that it is almost unfair to compare him to them. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Philip Mayo
3.0 out of 5 stars spying
Rather confusing in parts you have to concentrate to follow as in most of le Carre books. However this one lacked the intrigue and the story wondered. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mary J
5.0 out of 5 stars Not read yet.
I haven't read it yet, but the delivery was first class, as always. If the book is anything like others I have read by this author, it will be a treat.
Published 9 months ago by P. Eaves
4.0 out of 5 stars Modern realism
Not so much a spy thriller as a psychological portrait of people on opposing sides of an intelligence operation. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Hoku Ojin
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book...
Dreamy, unrushed, psychologically perceptive, this is unlike many of Le Carre's other novels - perhaps his most 'literary' to date. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Minerval
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read
I enjoyed reading this book very much. In a fashion typical of Le
Carre, interesting and multidimensional characters are placed in
situations that become increasingly... Read more
Published 12 months ago by V7+9
1.0 out of 5 stars not for me
this is first and last book that i will try to read by John le carre. utterly boring.quite not my style of reading.
Published 12 months ago by ireadnovels
5.0 out of 5 stars Never disappointed
John le Carré never disappoints, he has you glued to your seat until the very last moment. We got this as an audiobook and in addition to the book being excellent, so was... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Sylvia MacGaul
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read about the war on terror
How does the man manage to have such a creative imagination to be able to devise and develop the plot in this story.
A must to read for all of Le Carre fans.
Published 17 months ago by Peter
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