Today, Mundy is a down-at-the-heels tour guide in southern Germany, dodging creditors, supporting a new family, and keeping an eye out for trouble while in spare moments vigorously questioning the actions of the country he once bravely served. And trouble finds him, as it has before, in the shape of an old German student friend, radical, and onetime fellow spy, the crippled Sasha, seeker after absolutes, dreamer, and chaos addict. After years of trawling the Middle East and Asia as an itinerant university lecturer, Sasha has yet again discovered the true, the only, answer to life-this time in the form of a mysterious billionaire philanthropist named Dimitri. Thanks to Dimitri, both Mundy and Sasha will find a path out of poverty, and with it their chance to change a world that both believe is going to the devil. Or will they? Who is Dimitri? Why does Dimitri's gold pour in from mysterious Middle Eastern bank accounts? And why does his apparently noble venture reek less of starry idealism than of treachery and fear? Some gifts are too expensive to accept. Could this be one of them? With a cooler head than Sasha's, Mundy is inclined to think it could.
In Absolute Friends, John le Carre delivers the masterpiece he has been building to since the fall of communism: an epic tale of loyalty and betrayal that spans the lives of two friends from the riot-torn West Berlin of the 1960s to the grimy looking-glass of Cold War Europe to the present day of terrorism and new alliances. This is the novel le Carre fans have been waiting for, a brilliant, ferocious, heartbreaking work for the ages.
Le Carr 's angry, ultimately heartbreaking novel focuses on Ted Mundy, a good-natured British expat in Germany who's eking out a mundane existence guiding tourists through Bavarian castles when his longlost friend Sasha, a diminutive German anarchist, appears to offer him financial and ideological salvation. A surprisingly long flashback takes listeners from Ted and Sasha's first meeting in West Berlin in 1969 through the Cold War and, consequently, their careers as spies, before returning to Sasha's present scheme to save the world from Western imperialism. The story melds the poignant personal tale of Mundy's unwavering altruism with the author's sardonic take on the perfidy of economic globalization. Both themes are well-preserved in this seamless abridgement. No one reads Le Carr better than Le Carr . His nuances, accents and inflections are as brilliantly precise as his prose. For example, Le Carr lends Mundy's voice a note of optimistic na vet that eventually ages into a soft, measured fatalism, but for the ever-aggressive Sasha, his voice takes on a nervous intensity. Mood-appropriate music serves as a bridge between chapters a Sousa-like march here, a vaguely Beatlesque riff there adding to this well-produced audio package. Simultaneous release with the Little, Brown hardcover (Forecasts, Nov. 24, 2003).
100 Words or less
As a casual fan of Le Carre, I headed into this novel with mild expectations. Yet, even that minimal emotion was too much. His writing style is excellent, as usual. His characters are well thought out and complex. Everything seemed in place … and maybe that was the problem. It was all so mundane. True, he’s not known for action-packed spy thrillers (and that’s what I appreciate about him), but in this case the dialogue and plot plodded along. Maybe it might pick up the deeper I read? I’ll never know because I ran out of curiosity by pg. 100.