Mr. le Carre has succeeded again. His characters, men and women, are as rich as any he has created, the locales are equally colorful and the story demands telling. He has put human faces on some of the worst troubles all over the world today. . . in "The Night Manager," the author leaves us with the possibility of change. After such a rough but remarkably readable journey through the arms and drug culture, Mr. le Carre deserves credit for keeping the flames of romance and idealism glowing. -- New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Previously in The Secret Pilgrim , le Carre, our premier chronicler of the spy world, gave indications of where his future interests lay, now that the Cold War and the shadow world it created are firmly behind us. In The Night Manager he expands triumphantly on those hints, emerging as a scourge of the smooth international businessmen who, with their arms and drug deals, continue to make the world a hellish place for the poor and dispossessed. The title character is former military intelligence operative Jonathan Pine, now a smoothly urbane functionary at a top Zurich hotel, who one snowy night welcomes ``the worst man in the world'' and his corrupt, effete and brutal retinue to the hotel's luxury suites. Richard Onslow Roper is a British arms merchant on a colossal scale, based in the Bahamas but trading with shell companies all over the Caribbean and Central America. He is elegant, aristocratic, utterly cold-blooded and apparently inviolable, protected as he is by rogue former agents on both sides of the Atlantic who wish, for their own geopolitical, greedy and nationalistic reasons, to keep him operative. Pine, who once lost a loved mistress who knew too much to Roper's henchmen, resolves to unmask him; and the novel, written with all le Carre's mastery of atmosphere, character and desperate political infighting among the smoothest of Old School Brits, tells how, put in place by a handful of determined incorruptibles in London and Langley, Pine contrives to become part of Roper's inner circle. There are many hair-raising set pieces, a fake kidnapping on a Caribbean island and a poundingly exciting dash to the conclusion. The windup is oddly cursory, however, suggesting that villain Roper may be planning a return. If so, the author's many fans can look forward, with the knowledge that their favorite spy writer has made a brilliant transition to a bitter new world. 450,000 first printing; BOMC main selection. (July)
The ``night manager'' is Jonathan Pine, an orphan, former British soldier, gourmet cook, and superb sailor, now working for one of Zurich's posh hotels. At a former job in Cairo, he had been involved with a woman who was once married to ``the worst man in the world,'' and information he passed to the British secret service led to her murder. Now he is meeting the man she feared so much and starting in motion a series of events that will make Pine a murderer--stuck at the heart of an insidious but lucrative weapons-for-drugs deal. Le Carre ( The Russia House , LJ 6/15/89) brings to the world of the drug wars the same skilled characterization, perceptive detail, and dramatic storytelling that made him the undisputed master of the Cold War spy novel. This novel is precisely what we have come to expect from him: a work of high literary merit that's also great entertainment. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/93; BOMC main selection.-- Charles Michaud, Turner Free Lib., Randolph, Mass.
Reviewers keep nattering on about the death of the spy novel, but John le Carre, dean of all spy novelists, keeps telling us what we should have known all along: you don't need Russians to have spies, and you don't need wars, at any temperature, to have reasons for spying. The personal versus the political--that's le Carre's real theme, and it's never really changed, from "The Spy Who Came In from the Cold" through the Karla trilogy and now to this stunning "postwar" spy novel. All you need is a group and an individual in conflict: here the group is British Intelligence, in conflict with itself, fighting over diminished turf, and the individual is one Jonathan Pine, hotel night manager and volunteer spy, out to avenge the death of Sophie, a high-class Egyptian prostitute whom he loved and betrayed: "You are adept, she says. Yes, I am adept. I spy. I betray. I love when it is too late." So Jonathan sets out to "do anything, absolutely anything, rather than cringe any longer in the gloom of servile equivocation." With the help of a maverick branch of British Intelligence determined to wrest operational control from the latter-day cold warriors, Pine sets out to trap Dicky Roper, the man responsible for Sophie's death, a world-class arms dealer about to embark on a massive drugs-for-guns deal. The plan goes bad, of course, as the bureaucrats back at the home office squabble over who owns whom. It all comes down to choices: Do we protect the group (or the subgroup) by betraying the individual (either ourselves or others), or do we embrace the individual no matter the cost to the group and its ideals? The trappings of espionage--Iron Curtains, invisible ink, smuggled guns--give our struggles to answer these questions heightened drama, but, finally, it is the questions themselves that continue to haunt us and that give this novel its power and its universality. Le Carre has always known what many of us refuse to admit: we all want to come in from the cold, but even our most beloved groups will betray us if we try.
Le Carre‚ returns to the same subject as his disappointingly episodic The Secret Pilgrimthe fate of espionage in the new world orderbut now looks forward instead of backward, showing a not-quite innocent mangled between that new order and the old one, whose course le Carr‚ has so peerlessly chronicled for 30 years. Jonathan Pine, night manager at a Cairo hotel, helps Arab playboy Freddie Hamid's mistress Madame Sophie photocopy papers linking him to arms mogul Richard Roper and, while he's at it, makes an extra copy to send to a friend in the Secret Serviceonly to find that the leak has gotten back to Freddie and that Jonathan's belated, guilty devotion to Sophie can't protect her from a fatal beating. Six months later, Jonathan, now working in Geneva, meets Roper in person and, vowing revenge, volunteers for Leonard Burr's fledgling government agency as the inside man who can supply actionable details of Roper's next arms- for-drugs deal. With the help of Whitehall mandarin Rex Goodhew, Burr sets up a plausibly shady dossier for Jonathan and stages the kidnapping of Roper's son so that Jonathan can foil the snatch and get invited aboard Roper's yacht. But even as Jonathan, still grieving for Sophie, finds himself attracted to Roper's bedmate Jed Marshall and overriding Burr's orders to stay out of Roper's papers, the boys in Whitehalldivided between independents like Goodhew, who want the old agencies broken up, and his cold-warrior nemesis Geoffrey Darker, who insists on maintaining centralized authorityare squabbling over control of the mission, with dire results for Jonathan, whose most dangerous enemies turn out to be his well-meaning masters backhome. Despite the familiarity of the story's outlines, le Carr‚ shows his customary mastery in the detailsfrom Jonathan's self-lacerating momentum to the intricacies of interagency turf warsand reveals once again why nobody writes espionage fiction with his kind of authority.
From the Publisher
"Let me be specific: I think the man deserves the Nobel." - The Globe and Mail
“As the greatest spy novelist of our times John le Carré has always used as the bedrock of his craft the strange ways people are bound to each other.” - Calgary Sun
“In a world where villains can bleed tragedy and heroes may not be so heroic, le Carré is still our keenest arbiter.” - Winnipeg Free Press
“No other contemporary novelist has more durably enjoyed the twin badges of being both well read and well regarded.” - Scott Turow
“Le Carré, always an intriguing blend of patrician and populist, gives voice to all our contempt for hot-money deals.” - Independent (UK)
“I would suggest immortality for John le Carré…. May he write forever!” - Chicago Tribune
“A literary master for a generation.” - Observer (UK)