A Most Wanted Man

A Most Wanted Man by John le Carre. One of my favorite collections of short stories is by Jeffrey Archer and entitled A Twist in the Tale in which each story ends with a sudden change of perspective. About two-thirds of the way through John le Carre’s latest spy thriller, I was really hoping that there would be a fantastic twist and the end which would warrant sloughing through the first three hundred pages. The final pages do provide a dramatic conclusion, but still I would rate the book overall as a disappointment.

A young Muslim man named Issa escapes from a Turkish prison and makes his way to Hamburg, Germany where he stands to inherit an enormous sum if he can prove his identity. Issa is assisted by Annabel, a civil rights lawyer who helps strangers with the vast immigration bureaucracy and by Tommy Brue, the elderly chief executive of a failing British bank which has held Issa’s father’s deposits since the fall of the Communist empire. Arrayed against this unlikely trio are the combined forces of the German, British and American espionage monitors whose paranoia in the post-9/11 environment lead them to believe that a rich, devout Muslim like Issa may have dangerous uses for his windfall.

Le Carre spends considerable time developing characters with depth, whether it is the lonely banker trapped by his father’s actions from decades past and drowning in a loveless marriage or the irascible German field captain fighting against his superiors and the political machine that keeps him from generating a usable network of contacts. However, the pace of the book slows down midway through and the ending, though spectacular, is also rather abrupt.

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