Jim's Books

A Most Wanted Man

John le Carré

A Most Wanted Man
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ISBN: 9781444769302


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 Freres, a failing British bank based in Hamburg.

Reviewed on 5th April 2015

Continuing my slightly unusual new habit of reading John Le Carré's novels in reverse publication order, I've come to this story about an immigrant arriving in Germany to claim an inheritance. It has recently been made into a film (which I haven't seen), which surprised me slightly as I didn't feel it was as compelling as some of the other le Carré books I've recently read.

The most interesting story, to me, was the point of view of Annabel, and if this had been a John Grisham novel then she would have been the star. As it is, the focus is split between multiple characters, none of the rest of whom I found really compelling, and I wasn't able to generate a real interest in whether they succeeded in their goals.

Of particular note were a group of characters that I felt were added to the mix fairly late on. There were a lot of them, and I found it hard to distinguish between them, or understand their motives or goals. Perhaps this was part of a deliberate obfuscation, but I found it an irritant.

I've always been slightly dubious about reading le Carré, I think from a disappointing experience with an early novel when I was a teenager, but I'd been buoyed by recently reading 'Our Kind of Traitor' and 'A Delicate Truth', both of which were much more enjoyable than this.

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