Book review: “A most wanted man” by John Le Carré

As stated in the previous book review (see ‘Gone Girl”), another film based on a book can currently be seen in various cinemas. The spy-novel written by John le Carré has been available since 2008. The film with the same title, “A most wanted man”, has been in the cinemas here since early September.

Contrary to “Gone Girl”, this spy-novel is of course no flimsy. Though it is not John le Carré’s best one. The suspense is there from the very first chapter. A far too kind son and mother take in an odd, very sick refugee who has been tortured. He claims to be the son of a deceased Russian soldier with a none-too-clean slate. The Russian stashed away a pile of money into various shady accounts at a now floundering private bank in Berlin.

As with all spy-novels, it takes only a couple of pages for various parties to get involved. Some are after the man. Others are after the money. The majority use people who become accidentally caught up in the case. Betrayal of trust, blackmail, treason, dirty deeds, decent people being forced to do ugly things, twists and turns: it is all there. What is even better: the author still manages to surprise the weary reader and the concluding chapters are dreadful – but probably very realistic. For the story, plot, scenes, scenery, characters are all quite believable.

The book will not cheer you up, or restore your believe in mankind. But if you like this genre, John le Carré’s 21st one certainly deserves a read.

As for the film: it is hard to make a good thriller into a flop. It sticks close to the novel. So though it may later perhaps be remembered more because of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last performance, it is well worth watching. But as it sticks so close to the book, it may perhaps be a case of either reading the book, or watching the film.

Guardian 2014 review of the film: “A most wanted man
Independent 2008 review of the book: “A most wanted man

“A Most Wanted Man » by John Le Carré, published in 2008 is available as hardback, pocket, Ebook through f.i. Amazon and has been translated in various languages.


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