Mission a good song Apr 24, 2007
This is a fast paced adventure through British and African politics centered around an "innocent" and newly lovestruck young man. The book s reminiscent of Ambler's innocent man intrigues. It starts out very lightheartedly, somtimes hilariously, very unlike LeCarre's other novels. We are, however, slowly and finally swept into a darker side through the hero's well meaning but tragic misteps.
Bruno is a native light skinned African living in England, married to a white well connected English reporter, and working for British Intelligence as an ace interpreter. He falls in love with an African nurse as his marriage is breaking apart. Simultaneously he becomes a witness, through his job as interpeter, to a plan being set in motion by Britain and "other" international partners to supposedly save the turbulent East Congo . In fact, he discovers it is a giant scam.
He is assigned to act as interpreter and play a very tricky part in an elaborately arranged meeting between the leaders of factions that must be brought together to achieve peace and prosperity to the Congolese. The elaborate and ingenious staging of this meeting as well as the descriptions of the various players is a central part of the story.
The novel can be broken into three parts. The amusing introduction of Bruno, his background and relationships with his wife and his new lovemate. Then the technicalities and progress of the clandestine meeting: thirdly, the rapidly unfolding of the drama as Bruno and his lover(with her surprising contacts!) attempt to expose the evil planners. Naturally, time is of the essence.
The story is very cleverly done . I have had to get used to LeCarre's new socially conscious novels after being a super devoted fan of his spy stories. I think he has tended to be a little heavy handed, with the issues and characterizations being a bit over simplified. The introduction of some humor in this book goes a long way towards softening some of that and really makes a much better read.