Customer Review

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Thriller about Corruption and Naiveté, 3 Dec. 2006
This review is from: The Mission Song (Hardcover)
Bruno Salvador, the narrator and protagonist of THE MISSION SONG, is an interpreter, fluent in numerous African languages, who usually works for hospitals or corporations in London. But on a special freelance job, he learns of a plot to overthrow the government in the Eastern Congo. Salvo believes that this plot, which is driven by Western greed and enabled by corrupt African politicians and warlords, will only produce more anarchy and death in this region. Further, he is outraged by the venality of this scheme, which rips off the area's beleaguered African citizens. In this seamless and exciting novel, Le Carre shows Salvo, a naïve idealist, courageously maneuvering to defeat this scheme.

THE MISSION SONG is a fun and involving read with the careerist Salvo facing a corrupt, ruthless, and nameless syndicate that has both the will and know-how to obliterate him. As is common in Le Carre's recent novels, a question posed by this protagonist is: Can the actions of a brave idealistic amateur make a difference?

Over the years, I've read many Le Carre novels. At their best, these feature rich irony, surprising plots, and sardonic humor. While THE MISSION SONG is strong in these qualities, it also does two things very well that reviewers often overlook in Le Carre.

First, Le Carre is terrific when he writes about meetings. Meetings, as we all know, lack narrative drive and are frequently aggravating, diffuse, and time wasting. But in Le Carre, a meeting is a riveting plot point in which the pace is taut and the interaction is fascinating on many levels. This special talent brings Le Carre inside modern experience like few contemporary writers.

Second, Le Carre is a considerate narrator who creates moments when characters, without breaking the flow, summarize the plot. In THE MISSION SONG, this keeps a complex story from becoming vague. Yes, this is hand-holding for lazy readers. But this is also Le Carre's adjustment to readers like me, who have time to read only a few chapters every day and need plot summaries to re-enter the story.

Thanks for everything, John.
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