New spies with new loyalties, old spies with old ones; terror as the new mantra; decent people wanting to do good, but caught in the moral maze; all the sound, rational reasons for doing the inhuman thing; the recognition that we cannot safely love, or pity, and remain good "patriots" -- this is the fabric of John le Carré's fiercely compelling and current novel A Most Wanted Man. 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 around 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 important to her than her own career -- or safety. In pursuit of Issa's mysterious past, she confronts the incongruous Tommy Brue, the sixty-year-old scion of Brue Frères, a failing British bank based in Hamburg. Annabel, Issa and Brue form an unlikely alliance -- and a triangle of impossible love is born. Meanwhile, scenting a sure kill in the "War on Terror," the rival spies of Germany, England and America converge upon the innocents. Thrilling, compassionate, peopled with characters the listener never wants to let go, A Most Wanted Man is a work of deep humanity and uncommon relevance to our times.
Fiction imitating real life seems to be an apt mantra for British born author, David John Moore Cornwell, or his pen name, John le Carre'. He had a very "un-normal" childhood, having been abandoned by his mother when he was five years old, and his father made and lost fortunes several times by using tricks and schemes, and even landed in jail for insurance fraud. le Carre' was reunited with the mother he never knew when he was 21. Unbeknownst to him, he developed his fascination with secret lives from his observation of his father's unsavory lifestyle.
le Carre' studied and received a degree in modern languages after a few "bumps in the road" along the way. He joined the Intelligence Corps of the British Army stationed in Allied-occupied Austria, serving as a German language interrogator, then worked covertly for the British Secret Service, M-15 as a spy to detect Soviet agents. He taught at Eton College while he was an M-15 officer. He ran agents, conducted interrogations, tapped telephones, and supervised break-ins. He was encouraged to write by other authors, writing his first novel, Call for the Dead in 1961. In 1960, he had transferred to M-16, the foreign intelligence service. His cover for that position was Secretary of the British Embassy at Bonn, and later Hamburg. It was at that time that he wrote, A Murder of Quality, and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. He assumed his pen name when he wrote, since officers were forbidden to publish in their own names.
le Carre's novels include: The Looking Glass, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Smiley's People, The Little Drummer Girl, The Night Manager, The Tailor of Panama, The Constant Gardner, A Most Wanted Man, and Our Kind of Traitor. All of the John le Carre' novels were adapted for film or television.