The Mission SongJohn le Carre [Carre, John le]
"Gripping and moving. . . . A marvelous return to the John le Carre of old, with all the captivating characters, finely rendered landscapes, and messy complexities that have always powered his best work." -San Francisco Chronicle
Hailed everywhere as a masterpiece of suspense, John le Carre's return to Africa is the story of Bruno Salvador (aka Salvo), the 25-year-old orphaned love child of an Irish missionary and a Congolese woman. Quickly rising to the top of his profession as an interpreter, Salvo is dispatched by British Intelligence to a top-secret meeting between Western financiers and East Congolese warlords, where he hears things not intended for his ears--and is forced to interpret matters never intended for his reawoken African conscience. By turns thriller, love story, and comic allegory of our times, The Mission Song recounts Salvo's heroically naive journey out of the dark of Western hypocrisy and into the heart of lightness.
"Entertaining... Salvo may be the author's most naive creation to date, but he is also one of the most fascinating and engaging... The atmosphere of intrigue builds nicely and convincingly."-Baltimore Sun
"An incendiary tale... Le Carre's understanding of how the world ticks is, as always, machete sharp." -USA TODAY
"To categorize Le Carre, as many do, as a 'spy' novelist is to do him a disservice; he uses the world of cloak-and-dagger much as Conrad used the sea--to explore the dark places in human nature.' -Washington Post Book World
"Le Carre's insight into the dense, dangerous nexus of corporate and government interests is chillingly assured." -New York Times Book Review
"Engaging, masterfully told... The Mission Song offers an emotional resonance that stays with a reader long after the book is done." -Cleveland Plain DealerFrom Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Bestseller le Carré (The Constant Gardener) brings a light touch to his 20th novel, the engrossing tale of an idealistic and naïve British interpreter, Bruno "Salvo" Salvador. The 29-year-old Congo native's mixed parentage puts him in a tentative position in society, despite his being married to an attractive upper-class white Englishwoman, who's a celebrity journalist. Salvo's genius with languages has led to steady work from a variety of employers, including covert assignments from shadowy government entities. One such job enmeshes the interpreter in an ambitious scheme to finally bring stability to the much victimized Congo, and Salvo's personal stake in the outcome tests his professionalism and ethics. Amid the bursts of humor, le Carré convincingly conveys his empathy for the African nation and his cynicism at its would-be saviors, both home-grown patriots and global powers seeking to impose democracy on a failed state. Especially impressive is the character of Salvo, who's a far cry from the author's typical protagonist but is just as plausible. (Sept.)
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The Mission Song, John le Carré's 20th novel in a career spanning nearly half a century, most famously in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1964), receives mixed marks. Critics who enjoy the novel praise le Carré's intricate plotting, atmospheric settings, and his ear for dialogue—all the trademark riffs of the undisputed master of the Cold War thriller now setting his sights on new enemies. Those who detect a misfire here focus on the torturous complexity of the story and a confusing structure. Bottom line: Readers of le Carré will recall why they gravitated to his work in the first place; first-timers might have difficulty with the sometimes improbable twists and turns that impede a good spy story.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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