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A Most Wanted Man

3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  8,549 Ratings  ·  977 Reviews
A half-starved young Russian man in a long black overcoat is smuggled into Hamburg at dead of night. He has an improbable amount of cash secreted in a purse round his neck. He is a devout Muslim. Or is he? He says his name is Issa. Annabel, an idealistic young German civil rights lawyer, determines to save Issa from deportation. Soon her client's survival becomes more impo ...more
Audio CD, 5 CDs. Approx. 6 hours. Abridged.
Published 2008 by Hodder And Stoughton Audiobooks
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Will Byrnes
A young Muslim man or uncertain origin, scarred from extensive torture, finds his way into Hamburg and inquires into a large account, set up by his father, held in a private bank. A middle-aged banker reawakens to the existence of certain “special” accounts set up during the cold war by people of questionable repute stowing ill-gotten money. An idealistic young lawyer tries to see that her client, the Muslim, is able to fulfill his financial desires. Le Carre walks us through the details of how ...more
I still haven't figured out what it is that makes me like John le Carre's works. I mean, he's the only one among my favourite authors whose books are more than often overflowing with excruciating & tireless amount of detail & the writing verging on being boring & tedious at times. And yet, when I get to the end of it, it all seems worth the effort. (Okay, maybe not The Russia House. I didn't like that one very much.)

And then Le Carre surprises me by something like 'A Most Wanted Man'
Jun 29, 2013 Darwin8u rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
“The fact that you can only do a little is no excuse for doing nothing.”
― John le Carré, A Most Wanted Man


A post-9/11 Hamburg spy novel filled with all the key post-9/11 le Carré signposts: bureaucratic turf wars, moral ambiguities, innocents caught in the web of a 'war on terror', reckless acts, money, and a general loss of innocence. le Carré, with this novel, is really starting to not pull his punches with the West.

There are two broad phases of le Carré's spy novels. There are his early, co
Oct 20, 2008 Chuckell rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I feel like John le Carre is thought of as the grand old man of spy fiction. But his books really aren't what I tend to think of when I think of spy novels--they're always about world-weary bureaucrats doing grubby things that they know better than to be doing, about sad beat-up men whose best efforts generally just bring them, and everyone around them, more sadness. No high-tech gadgets or thrilling derring-do here--just an unhappy story with an unhappy ending. But gorgeously written.
Oct 13, 2012 Paul rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
This isn't the Le Carre of the Smiley novels. Here he deals with the war on terror and I think he is missing the cold war because it doesn't really work.
The main character Issa, is a Chechen Muslim (supposedly) smuggled into Germany. He is in contact with a lawyer Annabel (young, attractive and left leaning, of course) Issa has business with Tommy Brue, a British, 60 year old banker whose has money put aside for Issa (long story). Floating around theses three are a couple of Turkish muslims, wh
Nov 19, 2011 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Western spies, disillusioned bankers and civil rights lawyers
John le Carré at his best is an intricate plotter and storyteller who depicts the spy game as you never see it in Hollywood (well, except when Hollywood is making adaptations of John le Carré novels) — gritty and sleazy and all sharp but blurry edges, full of generally unpleasant people who are rarely acting out of high falutin' morality. At his worst, he's a cranky old man who's angry at the world, which is what you seem to get in his later novels. Which is not to say he's any less of a writer, ...more
Well, A Most Wanted Man is not the best of Le Carre's book. Agreed. Bachman is not Smiley. Agreed. The world behind Iron Curtain and Cold War politics is quite a different situation than the danger in which the world landed after September 11. Agreed again.

But picture created by the old master of the espionage genre is still convincing, reality bleak and both idealists and disillusioned betrayed once again.
Jun 01, 2012 notgettingenough rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
Updated, having seen the movie: https://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpre...

I hesitate about putting this on my better-written-than-Harry-Potter shelf. It is and it isn't.

Poor le Carré. He needed a new day job after the Cold War made his old one irrelevant. The stuff he's churned out since is hopeless. He doesn't have a clue how to understand anybody except Cold War spies.

I bought this for 3 francs and I read about that much worth of it. Moving on now.
A quandry here: the first two thirds of this is dull set-up and exposition stuff that doesn't manage to get the narrative flowing. A vaguely interesting counter-terrorism network is documented and arrayed against a not-very interesting suspect and his associates.

What keeps you in the book is that this isn't someone's early, earnest attempt at a suspense novel; this is a late work, from master John le Carré, who certainly knows his way around the chessboard. So there must be something to it all,
Never having read anything by le Carré before, I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew of his legacy, and I had seen The Constant Gardener (a film I quite enjoyed, though that was partly because of the gorgeous cinematography), but that was about it. So it was on the recommendation of an interesting review in the NY Times a month or so ago that I picked this book up.

I'm glad I did. A Most Wanted Man is a very striking novel about people trying to live their lives in a world that was changed after t
Tim Pendry
John Le Carre defined the Cold War thriller but he has since become a writer of liberal-minded fictional critiques of the cynical and confused world of post-Soviet security. They are worthy but not classics - the heart is on the sleeve, we are supposed to be outraged and that is about that.

This story is no exception but its precise subject matter would give the game away and that is not something that you do with thrillers. Suffice it to say that we are talking about the war on terror ...

There h
Eno Sarris
Jun 26, 2008 Eno Sarris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like LeCarre (Spy Who Came in from the Cold is great), and this one is centered in one of my hometowns, Hamburg. What's great about this book is LeCarre's unique analysis of post-9/11 spying, and all the red tape and International finagling that is going on. What's also good about this book, though, is that the characters are interesting and believable, and not just there to advance the plot.
Mar 12, 2016 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this after seeing the really wonderful film adaptation. There are, of course, some differences.

I have to say, that while I enjoyed the cynical outlook and the conflicts within all the characters, I found Issa's character to be really annoying, which I guess is the point.
Stephen Clynes
Jan 16, 2011 Stephen Clynes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel has 416 pages and was written in 2008 and published in paperback in 2009. It is a realistic tale about the international war on terror. John le Carre's writing style is very polished and uses a very large vocabulary. This story develops at a good pace with a well developed plot. You may think that Islam and the war on terror are difficult subjects to write a novel about but John le Carre has done such good research that the realities of this story read like a dream. John writes with s ...more
Oct 03, 2008 Foodpie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Most Wanted Man continues Le Carres exploration of the complex, often painful world of the post soviet intelligence community. Following the journey of a young man named Issa as he pursues his patrimony in Germany and unravels the lives of everyone involved in the process, A Most Wanted Man is as much a story of delayed judgment and unreserved conclusions as it is a spy novel. For those who have sinned there is no escape, not even in death. Secrets will be revealed, stories told, and the full ...more
Con Bé Ki
Jul 20, 2017 Con Bé Ki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Với phần mở đầu khá bí ẩn tạo cảm giác đầy hy vọng vào một cuốn sách sẽ vô cùng hấp dẫn và gay cấn, mình đã hoàn toàn bị... buồn ngủ khi mà càng đi sâu vào chi tiết thì nó lại càng khiến mình ít phấn khích đi. Để rồi cực kỳ ấn tượng với cái kết ít ra cũng đã khiến mình kinh ngạc và bật cuống lên vì sách đến đây đã hết. Như một cú đụng xe và rồi bùm, không còn gì để hy vọng.

Lê thê thì dài còn twist thì quá ngắn!

Một cuốn sách điển hình chứng minh cho sự sai trái trong những câu hỏi kiểu "khúc đầu
Joni Dee
Apr 04, 2016 Joni Dee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"A Most Wanted Man" is one of the newest Le Carré's, portraying the "new" post cold war spy novels. it is by far better than its consequent "Our Kind of Traitor" which is another fling the author had with a completely "communist-free" spy novel.

The Novel is well written as always, fluent and gripping. Takes place in Hamburg, symbolically (and later proven crucial to the turn of events) the city where the 9/11 perpetrators have found refuge right under the nose of the German intelligence services
Aug 16, 2010 Brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
John Le Carre’s Smiley novels are unquestionably masterpieces. However, with the collapse of the Soviet Union history pulled the carpet away from beneath him; since then he seems to have lost his relevance and is in danger of producing pastiches of himself.

There’s nothing new about A Most Wanted Man. Though it’s subject is ostensibly the war on terror, the plot is familiar Le Carre territory: inter-service rivalry, complicated financial transactions, the impossibility of old-fashioned values in
Apr 19, 2010 Yngvild rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: espionage
A Most Wanted Man is the most demanding of John le Carré’s spy stories so far, maybe too demanding. I read fiction for relaxation, and this is not a relaxing read where, after being fed a bread crumb trail of clues, all is revealed in the last chapter.

There are the predictable stereotypical characters of a political spy novel: the Birkenstock-wearing liberal German woman lawyer; the lascivious middle-aged British banker with a disreputable father; and the usual assortment of thugs and bureaucrat
Jun 04, 2011 Mitch rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've had mixed feelings about Le Carre since The Russia House (1989). However, as a back cover blurb states, this is "a first-class novel about the most pressing moral and political concerns of our time." No argument here. There are three main characters -- a beautiful female lawyer, a worn-out expat private banker, and a scruffy street smart spy -- but no real protagonist as the real center of the novel is the system. In retrospect, the ending seemed preordained, but all credit to Le Carre for ...more
Simon Mcleish
Mar 12, 2013 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in August 2009.

Issa is, or claims to be, many contradictory people. A beggar sleeping on the Hamburg streets with thousands of euros in the purse around his neck. A Chechen imprisoned and tortured by the Russians, but with a KGB officer father. A devout Muslim, who doesn't seem to know the difference between Sunni and Shi'ite, or how to show proper reverence to a copy of the Koran. Son of an important (if shady) customer of a small bank in Hamburg to make con
Marie-Jo Fortis
Sep 23, 2011 Marie-Jo Fortis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had seen years ago adaptations of Le Carré's novels on PBS. I remember I was not too familiar with the English language then, being a young immigrant from France. To the young girl that I was, a spy movie was a James Bond movie. Fast paced, humorous. And what did I get instead? A Balzac of sorts examining the mechanisms of the undercover world. I didn't expect the slowness, the introspection. The subtlety. And subtlety is tough when you're none too familiar with a language, as I mentioned abov ...more
After enjoying "The Mission Song" and "The Constant Gardener," two very fine novels that have helped make John Le Carre even more relevant as a writer of espionage and institutional morality in the post-Cold War world, I found it hard not to be a bit disappointed in "A Most Wanted Man." All the elements of success are here: Le Carre's pitch-perfect dialogue, his sharply rendered characters, and his remarkable ability to make the headiest of topics digestible to a popular audience. "A Most Wanted ...more
Oct 16, 2008 Corny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thrillers
This is not vintage Le Carre, not that we are likely to see vintage Le Carre again, with the author approaching 80. My standard for judging him is "The Honourable Schoolboy" which along with the rest of the trilogy constitute the finest spy novels I have ever read.
It seems he ran out of material once the Russians left the stage. Either that or the characters are simply not as compelling because he is no longer writing about "what he knows." The center of this stage is the aging Tommy Brue, not m
Sep 13, 2010 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best spy novels I've ever read. LeCarre writes with an exquisite economy; there is not a wasted passage. Though the author is intimate with the spy game and has done much research for this book the reader is never oppressed with pages of research as in so many other books by so many other authors for which much research was done. Every sentence moves the story along and the art with which the author makes the reader think is brilliant.
This is a timely story of post 9/11 frantic terror
Dec 06, 2010 Abe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another fairly low-key effort by Le Carre. By this I mean that, while enjoyable at the level of character and style, and to a lesser extent plotting, the novel didn’t deal with major themes or ideas. It was more just a small study of the effect of the so-called war on terror on the lives of some fairly innocent players.

The setting was entirely in Hamburg. Not only is this a city I’m totally unfamiliar with and have no particular affinity for, but it also says a lot when a Le Carre novel can be c
Aaron Ellis
Jan 21, 2014 Aaron Ellis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bought, abandoned
I hope this will be a better film than it is a novel, as the quality of the writing is poor. Rather than revealing his characters' personalities through the development of the plot, Le Carré *tells* us what the characters are like, as well as telling us the angle and direction of various plot arcs. It contains standard tropes of his fiction going back to the Smiley trilogy, e.g. the way the 'Atlanticist' bureaucrats are always 'shamelessly ambitious' while the Europhile ones are 'urbane', 'debon ...more
Feb 09, 2009 Trish rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Let's face it, LeCarre is a master. He has spawned a generation of writers who would like very much to do what he does. He knows how to create a scene, a dialogue, a character, a story. He did it all here again, in very fine form. A European banker, a young activist, an emigrant, all likeable, all believeable. But somehow I wasn't as involved as I often am. I think it might have something to do with the motivation of the characters. Never thought I was so picky, but when it comes to life and dea ...more
Jan 27, 2011 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chilling and excellent. More of a thriller than The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, but still focused on what's happening in the characters' heads and conversations. Yet again, the machinations of bureaucrats loom large in the success or failure of our heroes, but the motivations have changed post-9/11. Perhaps the best part of the book is that one never knows what is true and what is hypothesis, pointing out the crux of the problem in today's "intelligence." How can one make accurate, appropriat ...more
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  • The Secret Lovers (Paul Christopher #3)
  • Faith (Bernard Samson, #7)
  • The Foreign Correspondent (Night Soldiers, #9)
  • The Once and Future Spy
  • Passage of Arms
  • The Great Impersonation
  • Body of Lies
  • The Nearest Exit (The Tourist, #2)
John le Carré, the pseudonym of David John Moore Cornwell (born 19 October 1931 in Poole, Dorset, England), is an English author of espionage novels. Le Carré has resided in St Buryan, Cornwall, Great Britain, for more than 40 years, where he owns a mile of cliff close to Land's End.

See also: John le Carré - Wikipedia
More about John le Carré...

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“The fact that you can only do a little is no excuse for doing nothing.” 63 likes
“Yes, dear Father. But has it ever occurred to you that by controlling [your feelings] you destroy them? How many times can we say sorry before we don't feel sorry anymore?” 8 likes
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