Red Koi Reviews

See what I've seen, hear what I've heard

The Constant Gardener by John Le Carre

Posted by redkoireviews on 06/05/2007

Constant gardener book 2I saw the movie version of this book quite a while ago, and recently finished the book. Predictably, I think the book is better than the movie. Le Carre is a true master. I love the cynical, gritty atmosphere that his books create, and this one is no exception.

This one takes aim at big Pharma companies and their lack of ethics in Africa and abroad as they try and get new drugs to market in a mad haste. It’s a spy story, a mystery and a love story.

The scene is Nairobi, where British Diplomat Justin Quayle is the unlikely husband of activist Tessa Abbot. When Tessa discovers that a big Pharmaceutical company is putting lives at risk with it’s unethical activities in Africa, she devotes her life to stopping the company. Perhaps to protect him from harm, she tells her husband nothing. Unfortunately, Tessa is not protected from harm, and bulk of the story is about the transition from ‘status quo’ diplomat, to man on a mission to honor his wife and the cause she fought for.

This is what spy novels should be about – gritty, real world and fraught with all the grey areas between right and wrong. The characters are so well developed, you feel you know them by the time you put the book down. The plot could easily be non-fiction, making you think a little wider than the escape created by a good book. Le Carre says it all in his note at the end of the book ‘As my journey through the pharmaceutical jungle progressed, I came to realise that, by comparison, my book was as tame as a holiday postcard’.

My Rating: 4 Stars


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