John Le Carré’s “The Constant Gardner” – book review

I really enjoyed this book. I’d only read one of John Le Carré’s novels before (The Night Manager) and although I liked it, I wasn’t really reading it non-stop.
The Constant Gardener was different. I started reading it on Sunday and finished on Tuesday – reading at breakfast, lunch and any possible time I could squeeze in the evening.
Not only was I reading it compulsively- it hardly left my mind, when I stopped reading it. I analyzed the plot and the power of its free indirect style for multiple viewpoints. I pondered the psychological realism of the characters. I googled all the information about the true story it was based on… and so on. I was somewhat obsessed.
Tessa Quayle, a charity worker and the wife of a British Diplomat, has been brutally murdered near Lake Turkana. Her husband is convinced her death is linked to the pharmaceutical company she had been investigating some weeks before… but all the British newspapers are concerned about is that she was killed while travelling with a man who was not her husband.
The book has been adapted into a film starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz (who won an Oscar for her performance), some years back. I had seen the film before I had learned it was actually based on a novel (which is very embarrassing for me when it happens- I’m usually very much a book before film person).
It’s a compelling thriller which discusses issues of medical ethics, justice, and redemption. It is also unashamedly a campaigning novel, the afterword declares „As my journey through the pharmaceutical jungle progressed, I came to realise that, by comparison with the reality, my story was as tame as a holiday postcard.”

This was John Le Carré at his finest. I look forward to reading more.



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