THE MISSION SONG by John le Carré



A half-British, half-Congolese interpreter unwittingly finds himself in the middle of a political struggle between two countries.

The life of the middleman can be exciting and dangerous. Bruno “Salvo” Salvador, the offspring of a British missionary and a Congolese village chief’s daughter, is an interpreter skilled in African dialects and in demand by London corporations and government agencies alike. His life is a comfortable one, but like any good le Carré character, Salvo is far from satisfied. Straight hair and tan skin cannot completely disguise his heritage, and he admits that there are benefits to “passing.” Though married to a well-known tabloid journalist from an important family, Salvo is also having an affair with Hannah, a Congolese nurse. Pulled from a celebration for his wife by the mysterious Mr. Anderson, Salvo finds himself changing clothes and changing roles. A government client wants Salvo to serve as a field intelligence agent. Whisked from a black-tie party at Canary Wharf, Salvo hops a plane to a remote island. His surprise assignment: interpret for a group of African nationals who may or may not be plotting to overthrow the Congolese government with the help of a secretive alliance. The failure of colonialism, the corrupt influence of foreign interests in Africa and the evils inherent in man are all on display here. Metaphors abound, both in deeds and words, and le Carré maintains a tight, three-act plot. Readers will delight in his jaundiced view of affairs of state.

Another fine work of intrigue from a skilled interpreter of all things topical.

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 2006
ISBN: 0-316-01674-8
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2006


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