Find your next favorite audiobook

Become a member today and listen free for 30 days
A Most Wanted Man

A Most Wanted Man

Written by John le Carré

Narrated by Roger Rees


A Most Wanted Man

Written by John le Carré

Narrated by Roger Rees

ratings:
3.5/5 (49 ratings)
Length:
11 hours
Released:
Oct 7, 2008
ISBN:
9780743579261
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

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 loves 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 reader never wants to let go, A Most Wanted Man is a work of deep humanity and uncommon relevance to our times.

Released:
Oct 7, 2008
ISBN:
9780743579261
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook


About the author

John le Carré was born in 1931. His third novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, secured him a worldwide reputation, which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Honorable Schoolboy; and Smiley’s People. His novels include The Constant Gardner, The Little Drummer Girl, A Perfect Spy, The Russia House, Our Game, The Tailor of Panama, and Single & Single. He lives in Cornwall, United Kingdom.

Related to A Most Wanted Man


Reviews

What people think about A Most Wanted Man

3.6
49 ratings / 46 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    Plus some more of a star. There are quite a lot of characters in the book but they are all well drawn individuals so no trouble keeping track. And most of them are pretty interesting and pretty nice - which makes for some tension as John le Carre is not known for his happy-ever-after endings. I thought it was well written and enjoyed the intelligent exploration of such current issues as migration, refugees and security services.
  • (5/5)
    Le Carre is masterful in his use of English; he almost seems to be using an evolved form of the language with the rest of us languishing behind. He sprinkles the work with phrases that could only be his--such as, "Life is a botch," rather than the more vulgar usage that everyone else makes do with. The author's complex plotting is legendary, and one does not find out who the baddies are until the last few pages. There are gradations of evil as well, the worst being what Le Carre, in another work, termed the "espinonacracy"; the administrative chiefs who fight for turf and budget and never have to experience, as the author puts it, "warm blood." Victims too endure different levels of suffering, from a person who has virtually lived in the torture-filled Guantanamos of the world to the street spies who are merely seeking to do their jobs (rather than their supervisors who don't care about right and wrong or promises made as long as they augment their power). Everyone is controlled by factors out of their control, and seeks to muddle through without losing too much self-respect. Some people, in fact, take advantage of a crisis to achieve a new perspective on life; others are painfully scarred by events and will never be the same. My one quibble is that Le Carre's oeuvre is so intellectualized, such a brilliant game of chess, that readers find it difficult to establish emotional bonds with characters--as some characters wonder around entire works trapped in an emotional void that is impossible to escape. The characters and the resolution of their crises are unforgettable, but rather than provoking an emotional response, the reader is left numb. Can people really be this horrible? That may be the way of the world, but it's certainly not escapist literature.
  • (5/5)
    Masterful as ever, but the end was appalling - up to the last I was hoping for a positive twist, but should have known better - I was shattered by the ending.
  • (3/5)
    Caveat emptor: this review is mildly spoilery, in a broad, non-specific way.

    John Le Carre does a lot of things very well, like create dense, fascinating plots, and characters that are interesting and feel complex and plausible. A Most Wanted Man has all of that, but I found myself dissatisfied at the very end. Not in the cynical, Le Carre-ian way, where you come to realize that nothing truly positive can come from international intelligence operations (though there was some of that, for sure), but rather in the way he characterized American intelligence operatives as arrogant assholes who do whatever they feel like, everybody else's feelings be damned, and ethics can take a hike, too.

    I'm not saying that's an inaccurate portrayal. It likely is, at least in some cases. But it's also lazy and uninteresting and trite. What's more, as an American, I want to see at least complex portrayals of American characters (well, I want to see it in all characters, Americans included), if not positive ones. Simply showing up around the edges of the story being vaguely menacing, then swooping in and effing everybody over, spouting phrases like "ass-kicking justice" like some sort of cartoon isn't enough.

    It's frustrating, because Le Carre is so very good at nuance. Everybody's good and everybody's bad. Usually. Just not here.
  • (3/5)
    A compelling story. Just read his most recent book too[Our Kind of Traitor] and it's sad that both books end badly for the innocents that are recruited in the 'spy' business.
  • (4/5)
    Tightly written novel that slowly weaves illegal immigration, private banking, the legal system, and terrorism together. Reminded me a bit of Lorraine Adams' Harbor, as it shows how a character's circumstances can be entirely misunderstood, or purposely seen as hostile, because of our "war on terror" policies in Western nations. I still prefer the Le Carre's Smiley novels but this is definitely worth a read.
  • (2/5)
    Solid spy thriller with a nice mix of mysterious characters from Chechens and Russians to a number of agents with the usual inter-agencies' rivalries. In the end though, the real villains turn out to be much more familiar. Good writing and pacing; lousy politics.
  • (3/5)
    A quick read. Not much happens in this book -- probably intended to be more of a character development piece. I've read a couple le Carre books and now that I think about it most of them are character driven -- but this one particularly so. He was pretty heavy handed with his political commentary in 'Absolute Friends' which I found distracting since it appeared throughout the book; here it is a bit more constrained. I'm between 2 and 3 stars, but giving le Carre the benefit of the doubt.
  • (4/5)
    le Carre always shows the darkest side of the espionage business. No different in this work exploring the intelligence agencies activities in the so-called war on terror.
  • (4/5)
    Not one of Le Carre's best. It's a simplified reworking of several themes that he's covered before. Unfortunately they don't benefit from the simplified treatment. We have the usual innocent (ish) runaway, pursued by the world's security forces; the naive bystanders eager to help the poor waif; and the corrupted agents trying to do the best they can in the world - holding off the combined forces of evil represented by their competing Agencies and the bad terrorists. There's a pretty girl and an attracted man, and a small town in Germany. (well OK it's set in Hamburg, but it is such a generic Hamburg that it could be anywhere.) You can guess all the rest quite clearly. It is again another screed bemoaning the overreaching US led anti-terror security forces. It's a short book (fro LeCarre) The characters are thin for Le Carre, the action also repressed, and the descriptions terse. None of this plays to his strengths. The slow plot meanders it way to the inevitable conclusions, without any of the twists, turns, mis-directions, or sheer personalities that Le Carre has inspired in his more memorable works. Skip this, and read Night Manager or Our Game, which cover the same themes in much better style.
  • (3/5)
    If I were to sum up this book in one word it would be _unconvincing_. Le Carre continues to be weak in his characterizations of women and his treatment of the sympathetic Muslim characters seemed closer to magical realism than realism. I felt the author was substituting flavour for substance. It is not the ambiguity of the characters and the problems that I found disappointing -- it is the fact that I felt no insight into the struggles the different characters. Too many of the characters seemed to have no "there" and so I felt their choices were arbitrary -- that is to say that the characters acted in a certain way because the plot of the novel required them to do so rather than the plot arises from the nature of the characters.
  • (3/5)
    There's a fine line between 'meticulous detail' and 'ponderous' which le Carre (at least for me) has always straddled. This novel of 'war-on-terror' spycraft is no exception, building tension very slowly, while examining the multiple shades of grey in a black-and-white world. It's great strength is the examination of cultural differences between nations trying to right wrongs. Interesting, studied and methodical - if not wildly entertaining.
  • (3/5)
    John Le Carre continues to perform well. Though the narrative flags in the first third when he tries, mostly unsuccessfully, to paint the thoughts, doubts and relationship possibilities of his female lead, he recovers the strong narrative drive and the book becomes a winner. The ending is unpredictable but stitches up the tale very effectively. Good stuff. Read February 2010.
  • (2/5)
    This book was tough for me to get through, and the end was unrewarding. The story starts slow, introducing many characters, including intelligence workers from multiple governments, most of whom are trying to deceive each other. Around the halfway point, my interest engaged and took hold in the developing plot. Although I gave up on tracking the many peripheral characters, I was invested in finding out what happened to the central three characters. I was disappointed, then, that the ending came very abruptly, literally leaving some of the protaganists out on the street. There was no epilogue following up on these characters, so I was left still wanting to know what was going to happen to these people. This is the only book by Le Carre that I have read; I have heard others are better. I recommend skipping this one.
  • (4/5)
    I found this a little bit confusing at first, I couldn't work out who each character was or how they were connected. As the book went on, though, I got caught up in the story. It's about a Chechen man who is smuggled into Germany. The man, Issa, is a rebel and a "known" terrorist who has been tortured. He makes contact with a lawyer, Annabel Richter, and a wealthy British banker, Tommy Brue. He needs their help in order to stay in Germany and become a doctor. As the story unfolds, we see that Frau Richter desperately wants to help Issa, and Mr Brue's bank has a past which means that Issa has claim to millions held in its vaults. Enter German, British and US Intelligence!
  • (4/5)
    Le Carre tackles the territoriality and ethics of modern terror investigations with this story, set in Hamburg. He creates an intricate investigation and espionage operation that comes to a jarring end -- making a mockery of one spymaster's promise to a source: "We won't tell you all the truth, dear, we can't. But whatever we do tell you will be true."
  • (3/5)
    Issa arrived in Germany with no past and access to large money. He didn't want the money as it was gained immorally according the the laws of Islam. The story unravels his past, and who he is, without providing a lot of definite answers. Issa is studied by several teams, oftenwith different interpretations of the past. This book is set in Germany, near the current time. It involves current issues, and feels typical for Le Carre's work. The story moves slowly at first, in Le Carre's style, there is little action, as subtlety and knowledge are key. The suspense builds well, but slowly. Not all of the questions are answered, but the events are clear.
  • (3/5)
    Audiobook. Interesting that LeCarre is moving into the post 9-11 world of terrorism. As always, it was a good read. In the end this one seemed to have a political point for the ending. That did disappoint me. I am interested in LeCarre because he engages political issues and writes complex psychological narratives. This book just didn't quite work for me and so disappointed.
  • (4/5)
    I've always been interested in why Le Carre is so popular. That's not to denigrate his writing, but rather to suggest that his books seem too slow, too serious, too English to consistently feature in best-seller lists. I'm also interested in what seems to be his shift to the left in recent novels. Here he offers a critique of the current 'war on terror', showing how the innocent are victimised, how the vaguely threatening are turned into global pariahs and the ethical are marginalised. I'm not sure he's offering a genuinely leftist critique of current US-British policy so much as a lament for the passing of old-style liberal espionage, but its good to see such a popular author challenging what's going on.As for the slowness I mentioned, there really isn't much that happens in this novel. It's satisfying nonetheless, heavily character based and moving towards a rather inevitable but still satisfying conclusion.
  • (2/5)
    This is the first John le Carre book that I have read (I have seen The Constant Gardener, but not sure if that counts in these times!). I really like non-sensationalist approach that le Carre takes in buiding a story around espionage and how the intelligence community around the world has been affected after the events of 9/11. This is in stark contrast to novel like The Afghan by Fredrick Forsyth.The book is very well researched, and as somebody who is interested in the subtle aspects of espionage and intelligence instead of the James Bond variety, I really enjoyed it.
  • (4/5)
    Well-written, forward-moving plot, good characters. Nice to see an intelligently written book of this genre. The storyline is a little less complex and more discernible than some of Le Carre's older spy thrillers. But still - at the risk of sounding like the Emperor in "Amadeus" complaining that a Mozart piece has "too many notes" - I think it has "too many characters" at least among the secondary players that we find in the German, American and British intelligence and police services -- hard to keep everyone straight. A movie version might help in this regard. But the main characters: Brue, Annabel, Bachman, and Issa, are all original and interesting personae. There's an occasional bit of political/editorial commentary inserted into the mouths of some of the characters, but it's not laid on too heavily (as in Crichton's "State of Fear" for example) and frankly I'm pretty much in agreement with the author's perspective anyway.
  • (2/5)
    Spy novels aren't my thing. I really had to force myself to get through this book. Lots of characters, many with multiple names. The characters seemed stereotyped to me--the misunderstood, but fiercely Islamic victim; the beautiful, stiff-upper-lip woman lawyer who everyone falls in love with, the slightly bumbling banker coasting to retirement. Blah, blah, blah. And of course, the Americans come along in the last 5 pages and screw up the best-laid plans of the Brits and Germans spies.
  • (5/5)
    A page-turner, as most of his books.
  • (5/5)
    John Le Carre turns his still considerable literary and story-telling talents to the `war on terror' in his latest work. Set in Germany, a middle-aged ex-pat English private banker and a young idealistic left-wing lawyer form an unlikely alliance to help a somewhat mysterious illegal Chechen Muslim refugee when he turns up in ill-fated Hamburg. The Chechen has come to claim `black' bank account from the British banker with the aid of the lawyer. Their efforts quickly come under the eye of various counter-intelligence agencies: German, British, and US. Each agency has its own agenda in dealing with the trio. Le Carre does a nice job describing the nuances of the agencies' various modes, motivations, and interactions. One group of German agents, the good cops, wants to use the banker, the lawyer, and the Chechen (and the Chechen's money) to compromise and turn a prominent Muslim doctor with suspicious ties. The others, especially the Americans, have other ideas. Le Carre also creates an intriguing ambiguity as to who or what the Chechen really is. Is he a terrorist? A hapless victim? Likewise, with regard to Dr. Abdullah - is he a legitimate conduit for channeling money to leading Muslim charities or is he knowingly directing part of the funds to nefarious ends? I found the story less than compelling at times - in a word, put-down-able (if that is a word). The motivations of the banker and to a lesser extent, the lawyer to take huge risks are not entirely convincing. But then LeCarre has never really produced page-turners. The interplay of the anti-terror cops with one another and their victims (no other word for it, really) leading to the sudden and the powerfully disturbing denouement - a sickening kick to the stomach made all the more distressing by its realism - compensate for any shortcomings. Not on a level with Smiley's People, but much better than many of his post-Cold War offerings. Highly recommended. 4.5 stars.
  • (5/5)
    This troubling story deals with the limits of modern spy craft as it applies to finding and bringing terrorists to justice. Innocent people are falsely accused and the cascade of frightening events sweep others into a snare set by a multi-national anti-terrorist team.
  • (4/5)
    A Most Wanted Man is a spy novel extraordaire with themes more relevant to today's issues then most other thrillers I've read. Highlighting the war on terror and they way it has altered rationality, this is a book that should hit close to home for anyone. Issa, a young Russian with horrific scars, comes mysteriously to be in Hamberg. A devout Muslim, he is quickly under suspcion from all sides. Annabel, a young German lawyer is determind to prevent the government from deporting him and she drags a wealthy British banker into her cause. It's a game of cat and mouse as the rival spies try to find proof of Issa's terrorist connections. I listened to this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. John le Carre reads the book himself, and he does a good job of it. I found the plot to be frighteningly plausible. I liked the main characters and especially enjoyed the relationships between Issa, Annabelle, and Tommy Brue. This is a book peopled with realistic people caught in unimaginably terrifying circumstances!
  • (4/5)
    John le Carre bases A Most Wanted Man on a most unlikely premise. To depict the extent of Western xenophobia and scapegoating spawned by 9/11, he chooses to set this spy novel not in the country that was struck by the terrorists, or in the nations targeted by the ensuing War on Terror, but in the country that served as a way station for several key 9/11 terrorists. Hamburg, Germany, a city known for its openness to foreigners, is infiltrated by a fractured young man from Chechnya who may (or may not) pose the next grave threat to Western civilization. Young Issa's improbable entry into Germany, tenuous connection to Islamic radicals, and inherited right to a large secret bank account held by British-owned Brue Freres, place him in the crosshairs of German, British and United States intelligence agencies, each with its own mysterious agenda. When young civil rights attorney Annabel petitions bank owner Tommy Brue to release the secret funds and help protect Issa from deportation, Annabel and Tommy find themselves caught up in a multi-layered plot that tests their willingness to sacrifice their reputations and livelihoods for the benefit of this enigmatic young man. A Most Wanted Man succeeds not only as a sophisticated spy thriller, but also as a nuanced character study, provocative political commentary, and thoughtful examination of what it really means to be a moral human being. The writing is fluid throughout, and the well-constructed plot builds suspense even in the absence of violent action. The ending, though, left me with the impression that le Carre wound this tale so tightly that it jammed up at the climax and could not release properly. When this gets made into a movie, as seems to be the case with most of le Carre's books, the screen writer's challenge will be to devise a more fitting resolution to this fantastic build-up.
  • (3/5)
    A bit hard to follow. Not the best by this author
  • (5/5)
    Excellent reader. One of the best Le Carré novels. It is current in the conflicts between law enforcement agencies
  • (2/5)
    John le Carre is in a class by himself as an espionage novelist; Tinker, Tailor, Spy and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold are great novels. Unfortunately, to me, A Most Wanted Man doesn?t hold up to this level. The novel starts far too slowly, and while the intelligence and moral ambiguity that are le Carre novels? hallmarks are present, G?nther Bachmann is no George Smiley, and the terrorist Issa Karpov is no Karla. It waits to be seen if A Delicate Truth is a better read.