Ben Oliver


The Night Manager

19 July 2021

Jonathan Pine, a spy, plants himself into the inner circle of a charismatic wealthy arms dealer, travelling around the world with him trying to get enough dirt on his dealings to take him down. Meanwhile, his bosses at the intelligence services in the UK and USA are waging their own internal battles.

Le Carré has a keen sense of observation and can paint a vivid picture in a dozen words. His grasp on the intricacies between humans in social situations puts you right there in the novel with his characters. He has a way to boil down strange situations into snappy and accessible analogies, and it’s this writing style that kept me hooked into what is otherwise a dry novel.

Tension builds at a glacial pace, spending plenty of time in Jonathan Pine’s head rather than in the action. It’s effective and gives the book an almost cinematic quality.

Then come the never-ending chapters on spy bureaucracy, using so much insider lingo that your reading slows down to a snail’s pace as you try to process it. It’s tedious and dare I say could almost be skipped.

This is a fundamentally good story with too much meat on its bones. I’m enough of a nerd to get stuck into the paperwork, but I can see why some find it a chore - because it often is a chore. Heaven forbid I recommend the perfectly cast and well structured TV miniseries over the book!