Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Master of Spy Tales Uncovers a New Plot

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Master of Spy Tales Uncovers a New Plot

Article excerpt

THE end of the cold war did not spell the end of spies - or stories about them. The Scarlet Pimpernel and Mata Hari were going strong long before the CIA and KGB hit their stride. And as we look toward the future, espionage seems here to stay.

John le Carre, the leading expositor of the shadowy no man's land between East and West, has managed the transition smoothly. Le Carre's novels began appearing in the 1960s, at the height of the cold war. While Ian Fleming was using the long twilight struggle as material for the exploits of the glamorous 007, le Carre's careworn agents coped with the realities of bureaucratic politics, family worries, and all the moral ambiguity espionage entails.

In "The Night Manager," an Anglo-American team of agents tackles some international arms merchants and drug lords, and, in doing so, they inadvertently cross swords with a network of corrupt intelligence officials who profit from this trade.

The story unfolds against a background of bureaucratic in-fighting and corruption in high places. Jonathan Pine, the night manager of an exclusive Swiss hotel, is recruited to take part in an operation designed to put an illegal arms dealer behind bars. Loyal, discreet, courageous, and resourceful - an old-fashioned, true-blue Englishman - Pine has served his country in the past, but he is still feeling guilty and angry over a mistake that cost the life of a woman he loved. When he's approached again, this time to play a far more dangerous role in catching one of the men he blames for her death, he agrees.

Richard Onslow Roper, his prey, is a suave, mega-rich Englishman whose chief goal in life is to become even more rich and powerful. At the moment, he's selling heavy weaponry to Latin American drug lords in exchange for cocaine. Surrounded by a retinue of front-men, bodyguards, a mistress, and an eight-year-old son, Roper entertains lavishly in all the best places, including his private yacht, while spouting half-baked social-Darwinist claptrap about the survival of the fittest. …

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