The Mission Song, John Le Carré, 2006
Bruno Salvador, or Bruno as his close friends and wife call him, is a half white, half black Congolese/British interpreter. On the night a party honoring his wife's work as a journalist, Bruno is called upon by his superior to work for a special case that will last the weekend. On a unnamed island north of the UK, Bruno becomes the interpreter in a contract negotiation setting between three rival Congolese leaders and an entity known only as 'the syndicate.' The goal? A peace deal for Congo. Or is there an ulterior motive working behind the scenes?...
Le Carré is known as the master of the spy novel. Arguably his best works are his earlier novels which take place during the Cold War. This is his second post 9/11 effort and the enemy this time is greed in the shape of Western capitalism and shady corporations. It's nice to see Le Carré dive into the topic, but I sense that his comfort zone is really within spy organizations and the taught, tense and psychological affairs that take place within them. Here he delivers a good story, but one that has a certain predictability to it. The moment I read that the entity organizing the negotiations was only known as 'the syndicate', I had a pretty good idea to where the tale would take me. And most of my guesses were spot on too.
Not very original, but Le Carré writes terribly well and creates sympathetic characters for the story. Give it a try if you're a fan, but don't expect fireworks.