Le Carre returns to the same subject as his disappointingly episodic The Secret Pilgrim--the fate of espionage in the new world order--but now looks forward instead of backward, showing a not-quite innocent mangled between that new order and the old one, whose course le Carre has so peerlessly chronicled for 30 years. Jonathan Pine, night manager at a Cairo hotel, helps Arab playboy Freddie Hamid's mistress Madame Sophie photocopy papers linking him to arms mogul Richard Roper and, while he's at it, makes an extra copy to send to a friend in the Secret Service--only to find that the leak has gotten back to Freddie and that Jonathan's belated, guilty devotion to Sophie can't protect her from a fatal beating. Six months later, Jonathan, now working in Geneva, meets Roper in person and, vowing revenge, volunteers for Leonard Burr's fledgling government agency as the inside man who can supply actionable details of Roper's next arms- for-drugs deal. With the help of Whitehall mandarin Rex Goodhew, Burr sets up a plausibly shady dossier for Jonathan and stages the kidnapping of Roper's son so that Jonathan can foil the snatch and get invited aboard Roper's yacht. But even as Jonathan, still grieving for Sophie, finds himself attracted to Roper's bedmate Jed Marshall and overriding Burr's orders to stay out of Roper's papers, the boys in Whitehall--divided between independents like Goodhew, who want the old agencies broken up, and his cold-warrior nemesis Geoffrey Darker, who insists on maintaining centralized authority--are squabbling over control of the mission, with dire results for Jonathan, whose most dangerous enemies turn out to be his well-meaning masters back home. Despite the familiarity of the story's outlines, le Carre shows his customary mastery in the details--from Jonathan's self-lacerating momentum to the intricacies of interagency turf wars--and reveals once again why nobody writes espionage fiction with his kind of authority.