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The Night Manager

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In the shadowy recesses of Whitehall and Washington an unholy alliance operates between the intelligence community and the secret arms trade. Jonathan Pine is ready to stand up and be counted in the fight against this ultimate heart of darkness. His mission takes him from the cliffs of west Cornwall, via northern Quebec and the Caribbean, to the jungles of post-Noriega Panama. His quarry is the worst man in the world.

597 pages, Paperback

First published June 28, 1993

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About the author

John le Carré

368 books8,089 followers
John le Carré, the pseudonym of David John Moore Cornwell (born 19 October 1931 in Poole, Dorset, England), was an English author of espionage novels. Le Carré had resided in St Buryan, Cornwall, Great Britain, for more than 40 years, where he owned a mile of cliff close to Land's End.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,379 reviews
Profile Image for Brian.
688 reviews335 followers
December 7, 2018
“You have to bend the law from time to time, otherwise you don’t get anywhere.”

“The Night Manager” is an overwritten book, even if it is a well-written one, and that kills the enjoyment of this text. They say John le Carré writes “sophisticated spy thrillers”. Does that mean boring?
Simply put this text is dull, especially for the first 200 pages. I was barely interested. To the authors’ credit, the last 200 are much better.
The problem with “The Night Manager” is that it tries to do too much. There are too many points of focus and none is given complete attention. This text scrambles to give in depth detail about the agent in the field, the agent’s history (military and personal-this guy sleeps with every women he comes in contact with), and the political multi-national aspect of the world of spy craft and crime fighting. There are too many irons in this fire and none ever really gets hot.
As mentioned earlier the last 200 pages move along, but unfortunately, they conclude in a tepid ending that is a huge disappointment. The novel ends on a whimper that is nothing short of a cop out.
There are no more novels of John le Carré in my future. This one was enough.
Profile Image for Warwick.
824 reviews14.5k followers
March 28, 2016
A slinky international thriller about post-Cold War geopolitics, crammed full of damaged antiheroes, corrupt politicians, worn-out spies, megarich drug-runners and frustratingly vulnerable women. It opens in Zurich and rapidly expands to take in detailed sketches of Quebec, the Bahamas, Miami, the Netherlands, Central America and Cornwall – so that there is a kind of travelogue element to the action, not unlike the feeling in those early Bond movies where audiences partly just wanted to see someone jetting around the world.

This world is not the world of Bond, though, or indeed that of le Carré's own earlier works – it is much murkier and more chaotic. It is harder to see who the bad guys are, since so many of them seem to be doing business with the good guys: a lot of high-up people are very willing to make excuses.

‘Not bad chaps, Rex. Mustn't be too critical. Just a bit marooned. No more Thatcher. No more Russian bear to fight, no more Reds under the bed at home. One day they've got the world all carved up for them, two legs good, four bad. Next day they get up in the morning, they're sort of – well – you know—’ He finished his premise with a shrug. ‘Well, nobody likes a vacuum, do they? Not even you like a vacuum. Well, do you? Be honest. You hate it.’

‘By vacuum, you mean peace?’ Goodhew suggested, not wishing in the least to sound censorious.

At the other end of the chain from the dodgy-dealing senators and ministers, you have the foot-soldiers of this new criminal economy – a growing multinational population of disaffected specialists.

American veterans sickened first by war and then by peace; Russian Spetsnaz, trained to guard a country that disappeared while their backs were turned; Frenchmen who still hated de Gaulle for giving away North Africa; the Israeli boy who had known nothing but war, and the Swiss boy who had known nothing but peace; the Englishmen in search of military nobility because their generation somehow missed the fun (if only we could have had a British Vietnam!), the huddle of introspective Germans torn between the guilt of war and its allure.

Attention here is on the forces of international law enforcement – those fighting arms and drugs trafficking, specifically – who have an uneasy, even adversarial, relationship with the ‘espiocrats’ of MI6 or the CIA who, in their view, are constantly asking them to turn ‘a blind eye to some of the biggest crooks in the hemisphere for the sake of nebulous advantages elsewhere’.

The prose is typically efficient and controlled. His political understanding is very deep, his dialogue is outstanding, and lightning portraits of new characters are a joy: one man has ‘a face to play cards against and lose’, while the main female lead, Jeds (a public-school abbreviation of Jemima), is characterised by her ‘jeweled brilliance and a kind of dressed nakedness’.

I love this line, but it's also a pointer to the rather limited role of women in the book: they are too sexualised and too disposable for my liking. Of course Jeds is the kind of young, hot arm-candy that very rich criminals really do keep around, and you could say her character is perfectly justified; but for me she wasn't balanced nearly enough by the rest of the female cast for me to feel able to enjoy it. I found this very disappointing – it's such a glaring hole in an otherwise masterful grip on characterisation.

I saw an old interview with Ian McEwan in The Telegraph when I was looking this book up online, where he suggested le Carré was the most significant novelist of the second half of the twentieth century. ‘Most writers I know think le Carré is no longer a spy writer. He should have won the Booker Prize a long time ago. It’s time he won it and it’s time he accepted it. He’s in the first rank.’ I love to see sentiments like that and I think it's great to see a lit-fic star talking about the qualities of a so-called genre writer. This book is more evidence of his many talents – read it quick, a TV adaptation is apparently on the way.

(Nov 2014)

It was interesting, based on the above, to see that the TV version (just finished in the UK, just about to start in the US) changed Burr from male to female. Having Olivia Colman's grumpy pregnant bureaucrat to set alongside trophy-wife Jed really did solve one of the novel's biggest problems. And I did think it worked even better as a TV series – although with that cast and director I guess it would have been hard to go far wrong.

(Mar 2016)
Profile Image for James Thane.
Author 9 books6,915 followers
August 21, 2016
Jonathan Pine is the night manager at a hotel in Cairo. A beautiful woman named Sophie, who is the mistress of an Arab playboy and would-be arms dealer named Freddie Hamid, asks him to photocopy some documents for her and then to keep the copy in the hotel safe. Pine reluctantly agrees to do so and speed-reads the documents as he does.

The papers describe an arms deal that Hamid is attempting to orchestrate with a very wealthy and very bad man named Richard Roper. Pine is a patriotic Englishman and a former soldier. Thus he makes an extra copy of the documents and slips it to an official in the British Embassy with whom he goes sailing. But British intelligence obviously can't be trusted and someone gets word back to Freddie Hamid that the documents have been leaked. Hamid assumes that the leak came from Sophie and she is soon found savagely beaten to death.

Jonathan Pine, who by now has fallen in love with Sophie, blames himself for her death. He leaves Cairo and takes a position a night manager of a hotel in Switzerland. And then, six months later, Richard Roper checks into the hotel with a large party, allowing Pine a close-up look at the man Sophie once described as "the worst man in the world."

Pine decides that his life up to this point has largely been wasted, and, still blaming himself for Sophie's death, he offers his services to British Intelligence in an effort to bring Roper down. A clever plan is devised to get Pine into Roper's inner circle so that Pine can provide intelligence from within.

Pine is operating at great risk to himself, but it turns out that the greatest threat to his well-being comes probably not from Dickie Roper and his minions but from the people who are supposed to be supporting him. The book was published in 1993, when the Cold War had just ended and the world's intelligence services were in a state of flux, looking for new targets and, more importantly, for ways to ensure their own survival.

Pine and his mission get caught up in a turf war among and between intelligence agencies both in Britain and the U.S. No one wants anyone else to get the credit for an impressive accomplishment. Worse, some of these agencies have uses for a gun-runner like Richard Roper and don't want to see him brought down.

The result is a book that is very compelling and at the same time very depressing. Le Carre is very convincing when he describes the battles between these competing agencies and when he suggests that the officials in these agencies are much more interested in protecting their respective turfs and advancing their own personal agendas than they are in securing anything like the Greater Good. There is the strong ring of truth in this tale and one closes the book thinking that there are very few "good guys" involved here, and perhaps in the real world of intelligence as well.

This book was recently produced as an excellent six-part mini-series by the BBC, with Tom Hiddleston as Pine and Hugh Laurie as Roper. Both are excellent in the parts and the story has been updated and set in the modern day, rather than in the early 1990s. I enjoyed the book very much, but this may be one of those rare incidents in which the film adaptation is even better. Both are well worth a reader/viewer's time.
Profile Image for Sr3yas.
223 reviews997 followers
June 28, 2017
I was planning to read "The Honorable Schoolboy (1977)" as my third le Carré novel. But as fate would have it, I stumbled upon a TV show trailer on YouTube.

Tom Hiddleston + Hugh Laurie + le Carré ?!
Sign me up!

So before watching the show, I decided to read the novel.
❝ Promise to build a chap a house, he won't believe you. Threaten to burn his place down, he'll do what you tell him. Fact of life.❞

The story introduces Jonathan Pine, an ex-soldier turned night manager for luxury hotels. It was at this job, Pine meet Sophie, a beautiful mistress of a dangerous man with even more dangerous business associates. Sophie is in danger and seeks Pine's help. But his miscalculation on handling that matter costs Sophie of her life. To make matters complicated, within the short period Pine and Sophie knew each other, they have fallen in love.

So when Leonard Burr, a British intelligence officer asks Pine to go undercover to take down the man responsible, he agrees without hesitation. But the 'man responsible' is Richard Onslow Roper: A smart, methodical man who always covers his tracks using legitimate enterprises. He is a salesman of death. A gun exporter and a meth pusher.

The story is told from two sides. One side covers Pine's infiltration into Roper's organization. The other side tells the story from British intelligence's POV and the problems they face from a mysterious rogue faction within the intelligence department.

The story is good. Whenever I closed the book after reading the story and thought about it, I found it very fascinating.

Why the two stars then, you ask?

It's because of the experience while I was reading the story. The story was stretched unnecessarily and the writing was way off. I was surprised because the two books of John le Carré that I've read earlier were perfect for me. What I love about his writing is how realistic it feels. No flashy spy gadgets or extreme gun plays. His stories are sharp, methodical and based on pure intelligence.

But here, everything felt flat. The title character is a regular Joe with "close observation" skills. le Carré makes sure we don't forget that by bringing that up every minute. Roper is an interesting and complicated character with some honest world views!
❝ When we had bows and arrows we were apes with bows and arrows. Now we're apes with multiple warheads.❞

The other side of aisle features some of the colorless intelligence operatives obsessed with Roper. Their struggles only get interesting in final chapters. And even then, their story is left unfinished.

But the biggest downfall of the story was the portrayal of generic vulnerable women (Yes, plural) who always falls in love with either the bad boy or mysterious spy..... or both.
❝ The only crime she had omitted to mention was the theft of her own heart.❞

*Cue eye roll for eternity*

The unhealthy obsession with Jed, the mistress of Roper by Pine (or was it the author himself?) explaining her slender figure, her graceful movement, her innocent eyes and what not for a billion times were over the top and predictable.

The final eight chapters are better than the rest because they focus on intelligence rather than the glamour. But at the end of the day, I didn't care whether Pine or Jed survived or not.

Personally, disappointing.
Profile Image for Matthew.
Author 1 book66 followers
August 7, 2008
One of the more interesting aspects of Ian Fleming's James Bond series is the fact that, although Bond is ostensibly a spy, he really doesn't do very much spying: he doesn't invisibly infiltrate enemy lines, doesn't uncover valuable hidden information. Instead, it would be more accurate to describe him as a kind of tuxedoed one-man death squad, dispatched to periodically fuck up the life of some eccentric megalomaniac or super villain.

By comparison, the spooks in LeCarre's novels really spend their time spying: an activity which is, according to LeCarre, bureaucratic, tedious, dangerous, unrewarding, and lonely. In other words, in LeCarre's novels, being a spy is much like being a police officer minus any of the redeeming aspects.

Given this job description, one of the most interesting questions about a spy is: why on earth do they do it? For LeCarre's characters, becoming a spy is less an act of heroism than one of self-abnegation, penance, or revenge, and the best of his novels focus on the forces that drive individuals to such acts.

The Night Manager is one of LeCarre's best novels, a thriller that is more interested in the unstable psyche and self-compromises of its protagonist than the plot events that are taking place around him. Of course, those events are fairly interesting in their own right, a complex tapestry of government corruption, international arms dealing, and interpersonal intrigue which suggest that in the wake of the Cold War, and in a post-national era, the lines between business and government, politics and crime, are so subtle that they no longer actually have meaning.

A smart, neatly written spy tale by a masterful nihilist at the top of his game.
Profile Image for Bettie.
9,989 reviews14 followers
March 27, 2016


Description: In the shadowy recesses of Whitehall and Washington an unholy alliance operates between the intelligence community and the secret arms trade. Jonathan Pine is ready to stand up and be counted in the fight against this ultimate heart of darkness. His mission takes him from the cliffs of west Cornwall, via northern Quebec and the Caribbean, to the jungles of post-Noriega Panama. His quarry is the worst man in the world.

John le Carré on The Night Manager on TV: they’ve totally changed my book – but it works

1/6: Hotel night manager Jonathan Pine receives a plea for help from a well-connected guest. His actions draw him into the world of Richard Roper, a businessman and arms dealer.

Even though this was written in 1993 and this BBC rendition encompasses the Egyptian spring more than a decade later, all I can say is... I loved episode one.

2/6: On the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, Roper's life of luxury and calm is shattered. Six months earlier, Burr continues her recruitment of Pine, sending him to Devon to build his cover story.

3/6: While he continues to recuperate in Roper's villa, Pine starts to dig up secrets about the other members of the household. Meanwhile, Burr and Steadman seize on an opportunity to recruit a new asset.

4/6: Roper welcomes Pine into his inner circle, leaving Corky out in the cold. Meanwhile, Burr has concerns for the safety of her source when she suspects key information has been leaked to the River House.

5/6: A suspicious Roper gathers his entourage around him in an attempt to root out the traitor, forcing Pine to play a dangerous game. In London, Burr and Steadman face mounting opposition from Whitehall.

6/6: Roper and his team return to Cairo for the deal, reuniting Pine with an old enemy. Pine risks it all to put his plan in motion. A discredited Burr makes one last stand. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0761pkz

Jonathan Pine Tom Hiddleston
Richard Roper Hugh Laurie
Angela Burr Olivia Colman
Lance Corkoran Tom Hollander
Jed Marshall Elizabeth Debicki
Rex Mayhew Douglas Hodge
Juan Apostol Antonio de la Torre
Rob Singhal Adeel Akhtar
Sophie Alekan Aure Atika
Tabby Hovik Keuchkerian
Caroline Langbourne Natasha Little
Frisky Michael Nardone
Sandy Langbourne Alistair Petrie
Simon Ogilvey Russell Tovey
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,688 followers
October 5, 2016
"Every man has his personal devil waiting for him somewhere."
-- John le Carré, The Night Manager


"WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."

-- Major General Smedley Butler, 1935

After finishing le Carré's recent memoir The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life, I felt the need to climb a bit higher up on my le Carré mountain. Since BBC had recently dropped its 6 episode series of 'The Night Manager' and since it was one of the handful of le Carré I haven't read (I now have just four left: Our Game, The Naive and Sentimental Lover, The Tailor of Panama, and Absolute Friends). I felt this novel was a good place, as any, to re-start JlC. I loved it. It wasn't perfect, but it was a nice exploration of the guns for drug trade that went on (and hell, probably still goes on) with tacit approval of arms producing nations (see UK, US, etc). Like most of le Carré's oeuvre it contains bureaucratic turf battles and isolated groups and individuals fighting for ideals in a corrupted world.

The book is set in the late 80s or early 90s (it was published in 1993), so I think of this as le Carré examining the underworld we didn't exactly get to see when Oliver North was testifying/obfuscating about his role in the Iran-Contra affair. Here, as always, le Carré is focused more on the UK's involvement and private arms dealing in this book. This book has received renewed attention since the 2015 BBC adaption staring Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie. The adaption moves the time frame up (lucky for the adaption, arms dealing and government complicity in this ugly economy is almost timeless) to the period right around the Arab Spring.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
476 reviews31 followers
September 5, 2015
Disclaimer: I only read this book because they're making a TV version, and Tom Hiddleston is going to play the protagonist.

With that out of the way, I have to say, I struggled mightily with this book.

The plot--man infiltrates criminal organization to seek revenge on the man who heads said organization—should have made for a compelling novel, but it just...didn't. In my opinion, of course.

Overall it was plodding and slow, and could never really hold my attention for very long. I could easily put it down for days, ok, months at a time.

The bureaucratic side of things was too confusing; there were far too many government figures—all of whom had little character development—to keep straight. Burr being the exception.

It took way entirely too long to get Pine infiltrated into Roper's organization. I get that they needed to set up an intricate criminal background for him, but it took too much time. I'd have rather seen him get into Roper's organization much earlier. I think it was over a third of the way in before he finally got in with him.

I also felt too much of the novel was focused on Pine's manpain in regards to women. He wanted revenge on Roper for Sophie's murder, and that's why agreed to infiltrate his organization. I get that. I do. But instead of making it out to be wanting revenge because he felt responsible/guilty for Sophie's death, as he passed on copies of documents she gave him to British intelligence, and Roper has spies everywhere, I felt the author was wanting me to believe he was in love or at least could have fallen in love with Sophie, and I just couldn't. Had more time been spent with her and Pine in the earlier parts of the book (maybe by cutting out some of the 'criminal background setup' I mentioned earlier), then perhaps. Therefore, I felt the revenge motive to be a bit...lacking.

And then there's Jed. Jed is Roper's mistress. Gorgeous. Leggy. Blonde. And, of course, Pine is going to fall for her. And for me, there were far too many passages of Pine's internal thoughts about Jed, his feelings for her, hating himself for having feelings for her, because he's not even sure he likes her most of the time. Needless to say feelings the two had for each other never rang true to me.

All of the characters, Pine and Roper included, needed more fleshing out. I couldn't connect to any of them, really.

I don't know. This book just didn't work for me.

That being said, I didn't loathe the book, and there were some enjoyable parts. With some retooling and a lot of the fat trimmed, I can see where this could be adapted successfully for the small screen. Can't wait to see how it all plays out there.
Profile Image for Paul.
2,307 reviews20 followers
February 23, 2018
Apparently, John le Carré preferred the recent television adaptation of The Night Manager to his original novel. Now, this may just be a novelist trying to be nice about the folks who just paid him a lot of money to film his book but, in the case that it is true, I think I agree with him.

I didn't dislike the book, by any means; I gave it four stars and that's a really good rating from me. It's just that the t.v. folks made some significant changes to the story and, while I'm not going to mention any of them for fear of being a spoiler-monger, I think all the changes were for the better.

Still, this is a solid spy thriller with a host of very human characters and well worth your time if you're a fan of the genre.
Profile Image for Paul.
2,133 reviews
March 21, 2016
Jonathan Pine is the Night manager at a luxury hotel in Cairo. A conversation with a guest late one night opens his eyes to the dark underworld of the arms trade; this guest Sophie asks him to pass some documents to the Egyptian authorities, which he does, but he sends a copy onto a friend in MI6 too, even though she warned him that Roper has contact with the British security services. A short while later she is found murdered, and it dawns on Pine that he may be responsible for her death.

Six months later, Pine is now in Switzerland at a new hotel where is slightly surprised to see Roper and his cohorts appear as guests. A little while later he is approached by a man called Burr, who is ex MI6. He has set up a small unit to work against the arms dealers and he wants Pine to help with the sting against Roper. It has to be done outside as Roper has too much influence inside MI6. Pine agrees to go undercover, and starts the process developing new names and details for his story, before heading to the Bahamas. The team orchestrate a fake kidnapping of Ropers son, which Pine plays a key part in the rescue of him, and he gains Ropers confidence and is inducted into his team. Unbeknown to him, there is another spy in the Roper camp, but he is working for the Americans. This guy starts to imply that the current right hand man, Major Corkoran, is not reliable, hoping that Roper will trust more in Pine. The traps are set, but does Roper have enough influence to escape from this one?

This is another classic from le Carré. This is a dark and complicated story, which he has used to shine a light on the shady and dubious world of arms trading. It demonstrates just how much the industry is intertwined with national governments and the security services. The plot is really good too, there are all sorts of deception and betrayals going on, and he has dipped into his knowledge of tradecraft to show how someone can develop a cover. I liked the ending as well; le Carré has a way of making his stories much less clear cut than other authors would do so, reflecting that life is messy, problematic and there are not easy solutions regardless of the problem. Great stuff.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Left Coast Justin.
389 reviews78 followers
December 27, 2021
If I had to pick a favorite among the many excellent novels John Le Carre has written, it would probably be this one. I do not feel he betrayed his readership by abandoning Cold War plots; indeed, as the biggest threats facing society has shifted, Le Carre has bravely shifted in parallel, recognizing that money laundering, drug- and weapons dealing and unchecked erosion of individual rights have supplanted nuclear annihilation as our biggest worries.

Having picked a worthwhile theme (weapons dealing, in this case), Le Carre then generates one of his most interesting heroes yet, a Swiss-British ex-soldier who has become a hotelier. Although ostensibly the struggle here is between Pine and a billionaire dealer, a more interesting struggle is taking place within Pine himself, who must choose between safety and duty; between chivalry and lust; and between the hotelier's tradition of hospitality and bringing a lucrative client to justice.

At one point, as a woman fresh from the bath walks past him, Pine is "nearly ill with desire." How is it that LeCarre is the first author ever to describe it this way? Nailed it.

This book displays the usual brilliance of Le Carre's plotting and writing, and rewards us with his best protagonist.
Profile Image for Quirkyreader.
1,514 reviews41 followers
June 22, 2018
I liked the pacing of this novel. It was classic Le Carre. I did have one issue with it though, some of the action scenes seemed a bit muddled. So I had to re-read them to find out how the characters got from point A to point B. There was some connecting of the dots involved.

I haven’t seen the mini-series and I don’t know if I will. For this book had a unique story structure.

Profile Image for Janet.
Author 22 books87.7k followers
September 6, 2020
A wonderful addition to the John le Carre collection, this a post- Cold War novel of high finance, crime in the Iran Contra era, the dirty triangle of politics, drugs and arms. A splashy high rolling criminal, Dickie Roper fatally crosses paths with Jonathan Pine, the night manager of the top hotel in Zurich. But Pine is more than he seems, and he has crossed paths with the charming, sinister Roper before, in a fatal mission in which his great love was beaten to death. Betrayal, jungle training camps, and inter-agency warfare as only Le Carre can do it.

He is one of the prose stylists I most admire, and his understanding of human nature puts him as the direct heir to Graham Greene. If he was not writing in genre, he would be considered one of our finest literary authors. The danger of reading a book like the Night Manager is that you get so caught up in the story that you miss some of the best writing anywhere. Here are just a few sentences I had to write in my journal:

"Goodhew is followed by the federal prosecutor, an ambitious young man whose voice grinds like a racing car engine turning over in the pit."

"A footstep in the lane snaps like a broken neck."

"After dinner Goodhew had left Palfrey at the table with his wife so that he could pour out his soul to her, because there is nothing dissolute msn like better than confessing themselves to virtuous women."

"The day had been sullen and damp, an evening that begain at breakfast."

So much gorgeous writing. It ends like a thriller, and some of the characterizations aren't as rich as in certain other of his great novels, not as deep and gritty--yachts and estates are the major settings--nor is it as dexterously psychological as his masterpieces, but for a good three days I could do nothing but read read read.
Profile Image for Jenny.
1,670 reviews57 followers
January 16, 2018
The Night Manager is about courage, redemption and love of country. To run away from his demon and fail marriage Jonathan Pine became a night manager at the Hotel Meister Palace in Zurich. However, Jonathan Pine demon followed him. Jonathan Pine loves his country, so he agrees to become British Secret Agents to find the killer of a woman who died in the Hotel. However, unbeknown to Jonathan the investigation became complicated and would change him forever. The readers of The Night Manager will follow Jonathan Pine to see what happens.

The Night Manager and it was the first book I have read of John le Carré, and I enjoy reading it. John le Carre know how to engage his readers in his plots. I like John le Carre portrayal of his characters and the way they entwine with each other. I also enjoy the twist that John le Carre put into the story of The Night Manager. John le Carre does a great job in describing the setting of The Night Manager for his readers.

The readers of The Night Manager will learn about being night manager of Hotel in Zurich. Also, The Night Manager highlights the problems of keeping problems to yourself.

I recommend this book
Profile Image for Katie Lumsden.
Author 1 book2,812 followers
June 28, 2022
Maybe 3.5. I really enjoyed some aspects of this - the dialogue is superbly written - but I found it took me a while to get into, and some aspects of it (the depiction of women, etc) haven't aged super well since it was written.
Profile Image for Niama.
Author 14 books8 followers
November 8, 2012
THE NIGHT MANAGER is, hands down, the BEST spy novel I have ever read. If it has not or did not win a Pulitzer, Le Carre was robbed.

First of all, let me be clear: I _have_ read the best out there. I don't spend _all_ of my free time with the doings of espiocrats, as LeCarre dubs them, but I was willingly transfixed by all three tomes that make up THE BOURNE TRILOGY, and I do not have to close my eyes or be anywhere near THE BOURNE IDENTITY to viscerally remember, at the cellular level, the closing of that brilliant work.

THE NIGHT MANAGER is a different animal altogether however. Jonathan Pine, our protagonist, has not gone out for guts and glory; his military career was a deep and profound function of the almost criminal loss of his parents at young, tender ages. He knew little of his father except that he had an illustrious military career and that that career was the cause of his death. His mother dies soon after of an illness. Before he successfully reaches and negotiates adolescence, he is profoundly and completely alone. Military schools and military service parent him, orient him, yet do not require of him a lifetime commitment.

When we meet him, he is pleasantly serving as the night manager at a wealthy and quite exclusive hotel in Europe. He is not happy, he is not unhappy, he is not even waiting. He has loved one woman and lost her tragically, and he wants to avenge her, yet has had no opportunity to do so. He does not go in pursuit of one, such opportunity presents itself, and when it does, he lunges for it.

He has hated the man, a notorious and disgustingly wealthy criminal at the highest level, since the brutal beating death of this woman he loved. She haunts him, lives deeply inside his soul, spirit, and consciousness, and when service as an agent is required for the chance to send the devil on earth responsible for her death to prison, Jonathan Pine surprises even the espiocrats who hire and train him. Not even they are prepared for his quiet, solitary, deathly, committed service.

What I love most about this character is that he is not loud, boastful, an extrovert. He knows best how to remain by himself. He socializes, but never with intent; he takes nothing from his friends, nor does he give; he doesn't pry, yet if someone needed something important, he would find a way to satisfy their obvious necessity.

He goes out in pursuit of nothing, yet when opportunity walks up to him, he greets it heartily and with the ready potential for murder within the most supple palms of his hands. He does not speak loudly, nor is he happy when love insists on the heart's allegiance; he is furious with himself when a woman captures his attention, and within his own mind, curses both she and himself repeatedly when his body and mind react to her beauty.

Both Burr and all those committed to a lifetime of service within the intelligence community are dumbfounded by all they discover that Pine is capable of achieving. They think they train him, yet are surprised by what he achieves once they set him loose in the field. He is simply the best they have ever seen, and they cannot believe how forcefully and competently he rises to each and every occasion. And he does so without fanfare, bravado, just a quiet intensity and focus that astounds them all.

THE NIGHT MANAGER is also quite the literary spy novel. There were at least 50 words that _I_ needed to look up in a dictionary, and I have three degrees in literature plus one in creative writing--that includes two master's and a doctorate.

The difficulty of the vocabulary and its unapologetic Britishness I found imminently and profoundly refreshing; it was as though I had come home to the books I used to read as a teenager and young adult: challenging, masterful literature written at the highest level. Indeed, THE NIGHT MANAGER is definitely a tome for the Oxford lecture halls; the manner in which scenes are composed and play out equals Eliot, Shakespeare, or even Wideman at their most exceptional. Le Carre puts me in the mind of, say, Baldwin, in terms of the complexity and sophistication of his prose art.

I could quite easily teach an entire seminar on this one novel alone.

To say that I enjoyed reading THE NIGHT MANAGER is an understatement of three millenia. It was old home week; it was a return to literature of the highest caliber; it was discovering Sherlock Holmes all over again at 48.

It was worth every second of every minute that I suffered and watched and waited with Jonathan Pine.

Why? Because joy is our birthright, homeless or no.

Love and blessings,

Dr. Ni
Profile Image for Gerald.
Author 54 books428 followers
February 15, 2008
I have read [Book:The Night Manager] several times and I can't help seeing Kevin Spacey in the role (even though he's not a Brit). I understood that the movie version was set some years ago--Sidney Pollack to direct and Robert Towne to do the script--then it fell through for those unspecified "creative differences." I don't know whether Kevin was being considered.

Then I heard Le Carre speak and someone asked him about the movie project. He said he was barred from discussing it because of his contract with the studio but did admit that the project ended badly. I do hope it gets resurrected.

I believe this is Le Carre's best book since the George Smiley trilogy. I don't much care for the descriptions of torture. Including that kind of material always seems to me as though the author were taking the advice of an agent who wants a big movie sale. The book would be just as powerful without it. Or is brutality just an expected element of the modern spy thriller? The popularity of Bourne would make you think so, but Le Carre's work rises to the level of the best literary fiction, whereas I don't think Ludlum's does.

I will admit, however, that the torture is organic to the plot. As any fan of Le Carre's might suspect, it's all about taking the consequences for your own betrayals. The punishment did fit the crime, however unintended or in the line of duty.

The old triangle trade was slaves for molasses for rum. The subject of this book is arms for cocaine for laundered money. You can learn a lot about the complexities of international economics in the gray market, and you'll wonder what your friendly local banker is really doing with your hard-earned deposits.

Also that boat. Dickie Roper's yacht rivals Larry Ellison's. Big enough to land a helicopter on it. The life of the "yachties" in the Caribbean reads like something out of GQ or Vanity Fair. Makes delicious fantasy.

I suspect that there was someone dear in Le Carre's life named Jemima because the name figures prominently both here and in The Perfect Spy.
Profile Image for Briar's Reviews.
1,825 reviews506 followers
April 12, 2021
I really wanted to read The Night Manager by John le Carré because of the miniseries. I'm that weirdo who likes to read the book first. Why not? I found it cheap on Book Outlet and I love a good spy thriller. Or maybe I don't?

This book kind of put me off spy thrillers. It was long, slow and boring. I love a good spy thriller that keeps you engaged and isn't written to the point of boredom. There was so much explanation, so much random dialogue and content it just was dull. I couldn't get into it. I kept sloshing through it hoping that it might pick up... and it didn't really until the last quarter of the book. I was bored silly! It's a real shame too because everyone I know loves John! They all talk so highly of his books (including this one). It's just not my type of book, which is totally okay.

I think this will be a great miniseries, but the book just didn't translate for me.

One out of five stars.
Profile Image for Josie Brown.
Author 75 books561 followers
July 4, 2010
I consider myself a John le Carre aficionado, and this is, hands down, my favorite thus far.

We anticipate that his espionage and political threads are strong and tightly drawn. However, what is the true joy of this novel is the emotional depth of le Carre's hero, Jonathan. Driven by retribution and revenge, we get a man (as opposed to an automaton) with heart and soul as well as the obligatory skills of a spy.

In THE NIGHT MANAGER, le Carre's prose is poetry, as exemplified when Jonathan, caught in an act of espionage, makes love to the anti-heroine (whom he covets, but thus far has never touched) by telling her: "I'm obsessed by you. I can't get you out of my head. I don't mean I'm in love with you. I sleep with you, I wake up with you, I can't clean my teeth without cleaning yours as well and most of the time I'm quarreling with you. There's no logic to it, there's no pleasure to it. I haven't heard you express a single thought worth a damn, and most of what you say is affected bilge. Yet every time I think of something funny, I need you to laugh at it, and when I'm low it's you I need to cheer me up. I don't know who you are, if you're anyone at all. Or whether you're here for the beer or because you're wildly in love with Roper. And I'm sure you don't know either. I think you're a total mess. but that doesn't put me off. Not at all. It makes me indignant, it makes me a fool it makes me want to wring your neck. But that's just part of the package."

Trust me, it works. And if you don't get it, then seriously, you just don't get le Carre.
Profile Image for Roman Clodia.
2,427 reviews2,504 followers
July 24, 2016
It's fairly unusual for me to have come to a book after seeing the film/TV version as I tend to have read books first but in this case the two versions are complementary to each other and both have strengths and weaknesses. The recent BBC version is fairly faithful to the first part of the book, though it misses out a whole episode in Quebec where Pine is creating a backstory for himself. The book also pads out the relationship between Pine and Jed (English here) and allows us into his thoughts making him far less opaque than Tom Hiddleston's character. The really interesting change is in the ending which, of course, I don't want to discuss for fear of spoilers but le Carré creates something far more subtle and nuanced than the BBC, which adds to the unsettling dynamic between Pine and Roper that fuels the book at the beneath-the-plot level.

With all the forensic attention to detail that we expect from le Carré as well as moral ambiguities worthy of Graham Greene, and some stand-out characters (beautifully realised, for the most part, by the BBC series) this is a complicated tale of politics, guilt and redemption. It perhaps doesn't have the emotional intensity of the Karla trilogy or books like the superlative The Constant Gardener but it is an engrossing tale that transfers beautifully to the present day.
Profile Image for Laura.
6,872 reviews556 followers
April 1, 2016
From BBC 01 Player:
Attempting to help a well-connected guest, hotel night manager Jonathan Pine is drawn into the world of arms dealer Richard Roper.

1/6: Hotel night manager Jonathan Pine receives a plea for help from a well-connected guest. His actions draw him into the world of Richard Roper, a businessman and arms dealer.

2/6: On the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, Roper's life of luxury and calm is shattered. Six months earlier, Burr continues her recruitment of Pine, sending him to Devon to build his cover story.

3/6: While he continues to recuperate in Roper's villa, Pine starts to dig up secrets about the other members of the household. Meanwhile, Burr and Steadman seize on an opportunity to recruit a new asset.

4/6: Roper welcomes Pine into his inner circle, leaving Corky out in the cold. Meanwhile, Burr has concerns for the safety of her source when she suspects key information has been leaked to the River House.

5/6: A suspicious Roper gathers his entourage around him in an attempt to root out the traitor, forcing Pine to play a dangerous game.

6/6: Roper and his team return to Cairo for the deal, reuniting Pine with an old enemy. A discredited Burr makes one last stand.

Profile Image for The Escapist Reader.
191 reviews14 followers
April 8, 2020
3 out of 5 stars

Since, I finaly got the chance to write this (almost a month after finishing the book), I'll keep it as short as possible. I gave this book 3 stars because I felt it was lacking in certain areas. I will admit that, as far as plot goes, it is a very well-thought-out book and that the author knows how to set the mood, despite his elaborate writing style. However, I cannot get on board with paper cut-out female characters and two-dimensional secondary characters that exist just for the sake of existing. The use of certain stereotypes, that in my opinion came to define one character in particular, bothered me, in the sense that they weren't addressed in the entirety of the book. In conclusion, I would reccommend this if you are into political/spy thrillers and want to give le Carré a go. If you are intimidated by the length of the book, allow me to reccommend the series it was made into by the BBC, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Happy reading!

P.S. This isn't so short after all... Oh, well!
Profile Image for Belinda Vlasbaard.
3,269 reviews56 followers
July 28, 2022
4 stars - English Ebook

Quote: Jonathan’s point of vantage was a small recess between the hotel’s two elegant showcases, both of them displaying ladies’ fashions. Adèle of the Bahnhofstrasse was offering a sable stole over a female dummy whose only other protection was a gold bikini bottom and a pair of coral earrings, price on application to the concierge. The clamor against the use of animal furs these days is as vocal in Zurich as in other cities of the Western world, but the Meister Palace paid it not a blind bit of notice. The second showcase—­by César, likewise of the Bahnhofstrasse—­preferred to cater for the Arab taste, with a tableau of lusciously embroidered gowns and diamanté turbans and jeweled wristwatches at sixty thousand francs a shot. Flanked by these wayside shrines to luxury, Jonathan was able to keep a crisp eye on the swing doors.

He was a compact man but tentative, with a smile of apologetic self-­protection. Even his Englishness was a well-­kept secret. He was nimble and in his prime of life. If you were a sailor you might have spotted him for another, recognized the deliberate economy of his movements, the caged placing of the feet, one hand always for the boat. He had trim curled hair and a pugilist’s thick brow. The pallor of his eyes caught you by surprise. You expected more challenge from him, heavier shadows.

And this mildness of manner within a fighter’s frame gave him a troubling intensity. You would never during your stay in the hotel confuse him with anybody else: not with Herr Strippli, the creamy-­haired front-­of-­house manager, not with one of Herr Meister’s superior young Germans, who strode through the place like gods on their way to stardom somewhere else. As a hotelier Jonathan was complete. You did not wonder who his parents were or whether he listened to music or kept a wife and children or a dog. His gaze as he watched the door was steady as a marksman’s. He wore a carnation. At night he always did. -

John le Carré, the legendary author of sophisticated spy thrillers, is at the top of his game in this classic novel of a world in chaos.

With the Cold War over, a new era of espionage has begun. In the power vacuum left by the Soviet Union, arms dealers and drug smugglers have risen to immense influence and wealth.

The sinister master of them all is Richard Onslow Roper, the charming, ruthless Englishman whose operation seems untouchable.Slipping into this maze of peril is Jonathan Pine, a former British soldier who’s currently the night manager of a posh hotel in Zurich.

Having learned to hate and fear Roper more than any man on earth, Pine is willing to do whatever it takes to help the agents at Whitehall bring him down—and personal vengeance is only part of the reason why.

The author has created an excellent baddie in the wealthy arms dealer Richard Roper, who together with his henchmen.
Particularly the marvellously wicked Major Corkoran, crisscross the planet in luxury in the furtherance of their ruthless trade.

To bring him down we have Jonathan Pine, the haunted son of a soldier and night manager of a Swiss hotel.

As the story progresses it brings in the government agencies of Pure Intelligence and Enforcement. It avoids the mention of MI6 by name, instead using the term ‘The River House’. Indeed, considering how much of the plot involves the inner workings of the British government, little mention is made of explicit departmental or Cabinet roles.

A minister is involved, but of which department things remain vague. For the American input, however, there is little such ambiguity.

Prepare to be propelled into a viscerally rendered backdrop of Caribbean islands, superyachts, Egypt, drizzly Whitehall, Swiss mountains, the Cornish coastline, and Ireland during the Troubles. Pine’s motivation is a combination of his loyalty to country and his love for two beautiful women, both of whom are the lovers of wicked men. 
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jemppu.
500 reviews91 followers
September 11, 2022
"caterer, chef, itinerant hotelier, perpetual escapee from emotional entanglements, volunteer, collector of other people’s languages, self-exiled creature of the night and sailor without a destination"

Sophisticated war profiteering thriller, with the intimacy and identity seeking panache of Lawrence of Arabia.

Expert with espionage machinations, of course. If a bit more convoluted with its progression, than what was gorgeously adapted for the screen, the text still presents the evident origin source of the tremendous accumulated humanity of the characters and their relationships.

Reading updates.
Profile Image for Kristy.
85 reviews68 followers
March 5, 2021
This book says TV-tie in on the cover, but it’s the actual text of the original book. I made sure that I wasn’t reading a book based on the movie before I started it. I really dislike books based on the movie. I want the actual book the original author wrote.
Profile Image for Claire Strong.
15 reviews1 follower
March 17, 2016
This took me a while to get into. Let's hope the TV series keeps me awake longer than the book did!
Profile Image for Mark.
1,325 reviews65 followers
August 10, 2018
Jonathan Pine is the night manager of an Egyptian hotel when he is indirectly responsible for the death of a customer who trusted him with information about her husband who is involved in international weapon deals. When he finds himself in an old family hotel in Switzerland he finds himself in the company of an international arms dealer who is responsible for his customers death in Egypt and he wants to take this character out of circulation and once again approaches the British secret service.
And so starts a sequence that will deliver him into the path of this Richard Onslow Roper and gives him a credible history to find a place among his entourage and to destroy the man and his business from the inside.
The story is also about the power and influence within the walls of Whitehall and the price might be head of Jonathan Pine.

This is actually quite a decent thriller even if the ending is somewhat baffling and feels a bit surreal and unreal. The story is disturbing in the sense that powerplay is not done for the good of the nation but the good of the various business people. The Ropers of this world always gets coveted and protected by the man in power who should protect the world. Selling weapons even to areas of conflict does not interest them as long as he sells British. We see the white knight versus the world of money and power. Anybody would guess the result.

Well worth your while, I guess I will have to watch the tv show now.
Profile Image for John.
182 reviews33 followers
June 1, 2014
Another fine le Carre story. A winding story. Characters with depth. Visual details. LC always seems to have his finger on the pulse of international news, even now as it was twenty years ago.

Our hero is gently wooed into service, trained for technique, scenarios to develop deep cover, the set up, chumming with the villain, fem fatale, a proverbial storm on the high seas, a horse in green fields. Isn't it refreshing how Mr. le Carre refrains from using guns to the extent that film, television and other authors do? He hints of a climax approaching, but still there is surprise upon its arrival.

Others have mentioned Greek Tragedy; hubris, pathos, Gods playing with mortals. The formula isn't what matters. It is LC singing his song, painting his picture, walking us through green canopy tunnels. The ebb and flow, tension pulling us forward. Timeless themes.

This must be my fourth read. Fortunately my memory isn't as it was, I have a fresh story every time. I wonder which of his I will open next.
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