le Carre, John - 'Our Kind of Traitor'
Idealistic teacher and one time Oxford University lecturer Perry Makepiece and his girl friend barrister Gail Perkins have treated themselves to a holiday in Antigua. Perry is a good tennis player and gets challenged to a match by a mysterious Russian called Dima. He is surrounded by minders and family including his beautiful daughter Natasha, his second wife Tamara and their twin boys Alexei and Viktor and Tamara's young nieces, Katya and Irina. The latter's parents having been recently killed.
Once the tennis is over they are invited to the house rented by Dima for a meal. They are approached, away from his minders, by Dima who asks them to contact the British secret service once they are back in UK and to offer them a deal: his information on money laundering and investments by Russian crooks, in return for asylum for him and his family. He tells them that Tamara's sister and her husband, his protege Misha, were killed by the Russian mafia and Dima fears he is next on their list. Perry and Gail make contact with the secret service and meet with Luke, Yvonne and Ollie and their boss Hector. A further meeting is arranged in Paris with Dima at Roland Garros Stadium, watching a tennis match final between Federer and Soderling.
Secretly Dima meets with Hector and it is arranged for Dima and his family to be secreted away to a safe house in Switzerland and from there to be flown to England. Dima is worried he will be killed before he can get to the safe house, Hector meanwhile is having problems persuading his superior that Dima has sufficient secrets to impart. The scene is set for a complex and thrilling climax with the dreadful feeling of dread can they all be saved? It's made all the more complicated because Gail finds out that Natasha is pregnant and she goes missing when Perry, Gail and Ollie try to bring the family to the safe house.
This is the twenty-second novel by David Cornwell (writing as John Le Carre). There have been some excellent novels, particularly TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, some very good ones, which include THE TAILOR OF PANAMA, THE HONOURABLE SCHOOLBOY and THE CONSTANT GARDENER. Others including his previous book, A MOST WANTED MAN have I feel been disappointing. However he has been a very prolific and influential author and now approaching his eightieth birthday, he can still keep you guessing. This one isn't one of his best but keeps the suspense throughout.
Geoff Jones, England
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.