4 out of 5 stars
Perry and Gail were on a much needed holiday on the Caribbean island of Antigua. Perry was a big tennis player and along with the slightly overweight pro he had arranged a game with a honeymoon couple from India. It was a close-fought game and they even managed to draw a small crowd.
One of those watching was a Russian called Dima. He is a slightly aloof character, but he oozes power. He wants to play a game of tennis too and Perry reluctantly agrees. With Dima is his family, but also has an entourage of heavies that are there to ensure that their man is well protected. Dima has made his fortune in money laundering, and in deeply immersed in lucrative and very dodgy deals with the Russian mafia. His connections in the webs of high finance even reach into the British political elite and he has begun to realise that his position is a huge liability as he knows too many people.
Dima needs a sympathetic Englishman to put him in touch with the MI6 and with, Perry, he has struck it lucky. They reluctantly agree to help and take a USB stick back home with them. He knows a friend of a friend who is something important is the secret world and passes it onto them. He thinks that he has done his bit, but both Dima and MI6 want him and Gail to be the go-between and common point of contact. They never wanted to be spies; now they are in the secret world way over their heads.
I won’t give any more plot details away except that Le Carre has done it again with this book. It doesn’t have the same suspense or feeling of dread as his earlier books do though; this is more of a moral tale and most importantly a warning as to what the city (still) is doing by attracting vast sums of dirty money to be laundered through its systems. It is permeated with spycraft and dealings between those at the firm who realise that the asset they have secured is going to disrupt the cosy and very lucrative financial dealings that the city is looking forward to doing with the Russians. It doesn’t make it any less readable though and he is the master of the unexpected.