Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Most Wanted Man by John Le Carre - Book Review

      If there is one thing you can say about John Le Carre, he is without a doubt one of the most dynamic writers of our time.  His stories show that he is ahead of his time and A Most Wanted Man is no exception.  

       In this story, which is set in Hamburg, a man named Issa is shadowing a Turkish boxing champion.  Issa asks for help and a lawyer named Annabel Richter agrees to help him. 

       Issa would meet Tommy Brue and tell him that he is the son of a Russian, Colonel Karpov, who put his money in a fund that would be left to him.  Issa doesn’t want the money because he knows that the money is dirty.  Instead, he agrees to give the money to charity through a man called Abdullah, who is an Islamic philanthropist.  

        A German Intelligence agent named Bachman has suspicions that Issa is a terrorist with Chechen connections.  Annabel, who is representing Issa, doesn’t believe he is a terrorist and has moved him from a Turkish family to another apartment.  Bachman would eventually kidnap Annabel in order to get Issa’s cooperation.  

         While the story is great and unique, my feeling is that the story moves at a very slow pace throughout the book.  There is a lot of conflicts  with Annabel and Brue and Issa and Bachman is watching Issa’s every move.  In the background,  there are two CIA agents that act as observers.  

          I was surprised to learn that this was based on a real-life story of Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish Citizen who was arrested in Pakistan in 2001 and was detained and tortured in American military detention camps, then at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba before being released in 2006.  In any case, it seemed like this book was a critique of American policy under George Bush, which I think is a good thing.  

           Based on this, I would have liked the novel more if Le Carre used this part of the story more in his book.  Maybe it would be good to have Issa have nightmares of what happened to him.   I guess the reason that Le Carre didn’t write this was because he wanted the reader to wonder if Issa was a terrorist.  

           There didn’t seem to be any evidence in the story which made me think that Issa was a terrorist though.  If Le Carre had made me think more about this, then I think that would have built more tension for me. 

            While the story was great, along with the plot, I felt that the story was not fast paced and didn’t move very well for me.  Le Carre wrapped everything up nicely at the end for me but I would give this book four stars, wanting to read more of Le Carre’s books.  

Ron Hummer

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