Excerpt from The Constant Gardener by John Le Carre, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Constant Gardener

by John Le Carre

The Constant Gardener
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Dec 2000, 496 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2001, 576 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"So you haven't heard from her since when?" he asked.

"Tuesday when I drove them to the airport. What is this, Sandy? If Arnold's with her she'll be all right. She'll do what she's told."

"Do you think they could have gone on to Lake Turkana, she and Bluhm -- Arnold?"

"If they had transport and felt like it, why not? Tessa loves the wild places, she has a great regard for Richard Leakey, both as an archaeologist and as a decent white African. Surely Leakey's got a clinic up there? Arnold probably had work to do and took her along. Sandy, what is this?" he repeated indignantly.

Delivering the death blow, Woodrow had no option but to observe the effect of his words on Justin's features. And he saw how the last remnants of Justin's departed youth drained out of him as, like some kind of sea creature, his pretty face closed and hardened, leaving only seeming coral.

"We're getting reports of a white woman and an African driver found on the eastern shore of Lake Turkana. Killed," Woodrow began deliberately, avoiding the word "murdered." "The car and driver were hired from the Oasis Lodge. The lodge's owner claims to have identified the woman as Tessa. He says she and Bluhm spent the night at the Oasis before setting out for the Richard Leakey site. Bluhm's still missing. They've found her necklace. The one she always wore."

How do I know that? Why, in God's name, do I choose this moment to parade my intimate knowledge of her necklace?

Woodrow was still watching Justin. The coward in him wanted to look away, but to the soldier's son it would have been like sentencing a man to be executed and not showing up for his hanging. He watched Justin's eyes widen in injured disappointment, as if he had been hit from behind by a friend, then dwindle to almost nothing, as if the same friend had knocked him unconscious. He watched his nicely carved lips part in a spasm of physical pain, then gather themselves into a muscular line of exclusion turned pale by pressure.

"Good of you to tell me, Sandy. Can't have been pleasant. Does Porter know?" Porter was the High Commissioner's improbable first name.

"Mildren's chasing him up. They found a Mephisto boot. Size seven. Does that figure?"

Justin was having difficulty coordinating. First he had to wait for the sound of Woodrow's words to catch up with him. Then he hastened to respond in brisk, hard-won sentences. "There's this shop off Piccadilly. She bought three pairs last home leave. Never seen her splash out like that. Not a spender as a rule. Never had to think about money. So she didn't. Dress at the Salvation Army shop. Given half a chance."

"And some kind of safari tunic. Blue."

"Oh she absolutely hated the beastly things," Justin retorted, as the power of speech came back to him in a flood. "She said if I ever caught her wearing one of those khaki contraptions with pockets on the thighs I should burn it or give it to Mustafa."

Mustafa, her houseboy, Woodrow remembered. "The police say blue."

"She detested blue" -- now apparently on the verge of losing his temper -- "she absolutely loathed anything paramilitary." The past tense already, Woodrow noticed. "She once owned a green bush jacket, I grant you. She bought it at Farbelow's in Stanley Street. I took her, don't know why. Probably made me. Hated shopping. She put it on and promptly had a fit. 'Look at me,' she said. 'I'm General Patton in drag.' No, sport, I told her, you're not General Patton. You're a very pretty girl wearing a bloody awful green jacket."

He began packing up his desk. Precisely. Packing to leave. Opening and shutting drawers. Putting his file trays into his steel cupboard and locking it. Absently smoothing back his hair between moves, a tic that Woodrow had always found particularly irritating in him. Gingerly switching off his hated computer terminal -- stabbing at it with his forefinger as if he was afraid it would bite him. Rumor had it that he got Ghita Pearson to switch it on for him every morning. Woodrow watched him give the room a last sightless look round. End of term. End of life. Please leave this space tidy for the next occupant. At the door Justin turned and glanced back at the plants on the window sill, perhaps wondering whether he should bring them with him, or at least give instructions for their maintenance, but he did neither.

Copyright © 2001 by David Cornwell.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman in Moscow
    A Gentleman in Moscow
    by Amor Towles
    It is June 21, 1922, and 33-year-old Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is convicted of being a class ...
  • Book Jacket: I Contain Multitudes
    I Contain Multitudes
    by Ed Yong
    If a stranger were to accost you on the street and tell you that, from birth, you have never been ...
  • Book Jacket: Night of the Animals
    Night of the Animals
    by Bill Broun
    Debut novelist Bill Broun is a gentle, exquisite literary surgeon. His protagonist, 90-year-old ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.