FICTION ABSOLUTE FRIENDS By John Le Carré Warner Books, 2004 474 pages. 0446614491 Pb

Just when many die hard fans had resigned tliemselves to the fact tliat die end of die Cold War left novelist John Le Carré witìi litUe to write about save me evils of globalization and rampant capitalism, he has produced a diriller tiiat shows the master is back. Not only is he back, but in rare form, witìi a novel so full of rage and righteous indignation over die state of tilings tiiat one is left paranoid and gasping. His latest work tackles – witii all the venom and perverse twists of the human heart found in The Honourable Schoolboy, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, and The Little Drummer Giri – the dark undercurrents and machinations of post 911 realpolitik .

Fortunately, one must add, wiUi all the passion, realism and an eye for detail tiiat long ago elevated die former British intelligence officer from a spinner of pulp fictions to literary grand master in the tradition of Conrad and Greene. Not many novelists have braved die waters of tile Israeli-Palestinian deadlock without making enemies. It is perhaps a fictional first when Le Carré wrote of die conflict in The Little Drummer Girl and received kudos from bom sides at die bitter height of the Lebanon years.

A large portion of this novel unfolds in die days of the Cold War as the paths of our two main characters cross and diverge on both sides of die Berlin Wall. LeCarre is clearly in his element as he paints the Berlin of the Bader-Meinhoff and barricades, of students bent on revolution and a status quo made horrified and reactionary by die nihilist terror unleashed by a lost generation craving solace in anarchy.

What shakes the reader from die complacency that Le Carré is simply putting a new spin on old tricks, is when our very British protagonist finds himself praying as a Muslim in die first few pages of die book. And an ending which seems torn from tomorrow’s headlines. It is generally pointless if not downright sadistic to describe a LeCarre plot to someone about to read die book, so I won’t botiier trying. Having read his last few releases witii diminishing astonishment since he seemed bent on leaving die Circus in favor of plain old greed and corruption, it is a shot in die arm for fans of Mr. Le Carré and for die genre in general tiiat he can still be on die cutting edge of relevance without skimping on his by now well-known bildungsroman approach to what, in lesser hands, usually degenerates into a gunplay and gadget opera. Westerby, in 7Ae Honorable Schoolboy comments that journalism and spying share a common trait They are both full of times of “bloody inertia followed by bloody frenzy.” It’s good to see that novelists also have such bipolar swings and that Le Carré has slipped out of die inertia of the evils of globalization and back into the frenzy.

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