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A Most Wanted Man by John le Carré
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's review
Dec 16, 08

bookshelves: fiction-crime-detection
Read in December, 2008

Le Carre, John. A MOST WANTED MAN. (2008). ***. Despite all the great reviews this novel got for LeCarre, I thought it was rather boring. It’s really about the internal and intermural rivalries that go on among various security agencies from various countries, spawned by 9/11. The story is set in Hamburg, and begins when a refugee from Chechnia shows up seeking asylum with a Turkish family living in the city. He is an emaciated young man who has arrived illegally in Germany via Denmark, Sweden, Turkey and Russia. In all of those places he had been incarcerated and tortured to one degree or another. We’re not sure what his crimes were, just that he needs to stay out of jail. His name is Issa (which, I learned, is the Muslim equivalent of the name Jesus) and he is quickly assigned an attorney from one of the civil rights groups in the city. Anna, her name, is a savvy, street-smart lawyer – although she turns sort of wimpy in the end – who advises Issa of his rights. Turns out that he wants to become a medical doctor, and, to this end, wants to lay claim to monies his estranged (and dead) father, Karpov, had secreted in a private account in a bank in the city after World War II was in its final stages. Karpov was not a nice guy, but he looked out for the future. Several of his fellow officers also contributed money to the same blanket account; code-named “Lippizanner.” The head of the bank has to get involved, of course, but during the course of the story manages to fall in love with the attorney – even though there is a disproportionate difference in their ages. Now we have money and a dispossessed person driving the plot. Enter the spy teams. Sniffing a sure kill in the “War on Terror,” the rival spies of Germany, England, and America converge upon these three principals. LeCarre is obviously trying to drive home some points here, but they are points we already know about. This lacks the tension and excitement of a typical LeCarre novel.

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