Full of politics, heart, and the sort of suspense that nobody in the world does better, The Mission Song turns John Le Carre's laser eye for the complexity of the modern world on turmoil and conspiracy in Africa.Abandoned by both his Irish father and Congolese mother, Bruno Salvador has long looked for someone to guide his life. He has found it in Mr. Anderson of British Intelligence. Bruno's African upbringing, and fluency in numerous African languages, has made him a top interpreter in London, useful to businesses, hospitals, diplomats--and spies. Working for Anderson in a clandestine facility known as the "Chat Room," Salvo (as he's known) translates intercepted phone calls, bugged recordings, and snatched voice mail messages.When Anderson sends him to a mysterious island to interpret during a secret conference between Central African warlords, Bruno thinks he is helping Britain bring peace to a bloody corner of the world. But then he hears something he should not have...By turns thriller, love story, and comic allegory of our times, The Mission Song is a crowning achievement, recounting an interpreter's heroically naive journey out of the dark of Western hypocrisy and into the heart of lightness.
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.
This book may be one of John Le Carre's 'lesser efforts' as one critic described it, but it would be considered a tour de force had it been written by almost anyone else. The story's flaws, such as they are, are over- shadowed by the compelling, bewitching performance of the narrator, David Oyelowo. The accents, inflections and personalities of the various characters are so distinct that its easy to forget that they all come from a single reader. The story line is as cynical and sad as the most moving of le Carre's earlier work. But the hero, 'Salvo', is a delight: so hungry to believe that positive change is possible that he can't see the duplicity surrounding him. Salvo rings true and his belief in love and hope gives the story a stong ray of light at the end.
I listened and waited for this story to take off but it stayed mired in the super ego of the main character, Salvo. It was about as exciting as driving through central Nebraska. Based on this book, I will probably never choose another of this author's books.