by Sukey HowardMarch, 2001
The constant Le Carre
Nobody does it better, and the critics who lament that the end of the cold war meant the end of John le Carre's finest hour should consider his last four novels, especially his latest, The Constant Gardner. If exposing the callous exploitation of the Third World by greedy multi-tentacled multi-national pharmaceutical companies sounds tedious and dry, be assured it is anything but that in le Carre's talented hands. Set in today's Africa, riddled with disease, famine and warfare, the story moves forward and back in time, as Justin Quayle, the perfectly mannered British diplomat, tries to uncover all that his beautiful, dedicated young wife was investigating before she was murdered. Involving and provocative, it's filled with characters only le Carre could capture with such accuracy. And it's read by le Carre himself, who performs his own work as well as, or perhaps better, than any professional actor could.