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


"Wolfgang?"

"The lodge's owner. Surname to follow. Everyone calls him Wolfgang. He's German, apparently. A character. According to the police, the driver's been brutally murdered."

"How?"

"Decapitated. Missing."

"Who's missing? You said he was in the car with her."

"The head's missing."

I might have guessed that for myself, mightn't I? "How's Tessa supposed to have died?"

"An accident. That's all they're saying."

"Was she robbed?"

"Not according to the police."

The absence of a theft, coupled with the driver's murder, had Woodrow's imagination racing. "Just give it me exactly as you have it," he ordered.

Mildren rested his big cheeks in his palms while he again consulted his shorthand. "Nine-twenty-nine, incoming from Nairobi police headquarters flying squad asking for the High Commissioner," he recited. "I explained that H.E. was in town visiting ministries, due back ten A.M. latest. An efficient-sounding duty officer, name supplied. He said reports were coming in from Lodwar -- "

"Lodwar? That's miles from Turkana!"

"It's the nearest police station," Mildren replied. "A four-track, property of the Oasis Lodge, Turkana, had been found abandoned on the east side of the lake, short of Allia Bay, on the way to the Leakey site. The bodies were thirty-six hours old at least. One dead white female, death unexplained, one headless African, identified as Noah the driver, married with four children. One Mephisto safari boot, size seven. One blue bush jacket, size XL, bloodstained, found on the floor of the car. The woman in her mid-to-late twenties, dark-haired, one gold ring on third finger of left hand. One gold necklace on the car floor."

That necklace you're wearing, Woodrow heard himself saying in mock challenge as they danced.

My grandmother gave it to my mother on her wedding day, she answered. I wear it with everything, even if it's out of sight.

Even in bed?

Depends.


"Who found them?" Woodrow asked.

"Wolfgang. He radioed the police and informed his office here in Nairobi. Also by radio. The Oasis has no telephone."

"If the driver was headless, how can they know it was the driver?"

"He had a crushed arm. That's why he took up driving. Wolfgang watched Tessa drive off with Noah on Saturday at five-thirty, in the company of Arnold Bluhm. That was the last time he saw them alive."

He was still quoting from notes or if he wasn't he was pretending to. His cheeks were still in his hands and he seemed determined they should stay here, for there was a stubborn rigidity across his shoulders.

"Give me that again," Woodrow ordered, after a beat.

"Tessa was accompanied by Arnold Bluhm. They checked into the Oasis Lodge together, spent Friday night there and set off in Noah's jeep next morning at five-thirty," Mildren repeated patiently. "Bluhm's body wasn't in the four-track and there's no trace of him. Or none reported so far. Lodwar police and the flying squad are on site but Nairobi headquarters want to know if we'll pay for a helicopter."

"Where are the bodies now?" Woodrow was his soldier father's son, crisp and practical.

"Not known. The police wanted the Oasis to take charge of them but Wolfgang refused. He said his staff would walk out and so would his guests." A hesitation. "She booked in as Tessa Abbott."

"Abbott?"

"Her maiden name. 'Tessa Abbott, care of a PO box in Nairobi.' Ours. We haven't got an Abbott so I ran the name across our records and got Quayle, maiden name Abbott, Tessa. I gather it's the name she uses for her relief work." He was studying the last page of his notes. "I've tried to raise the High Commissioner but he's doing the ministries and it's rush hour," he said. By which he meant: this is President Moi's modern Nairobi, where a local call can take half an hour of listening to I'm sorry, all lines are busy, please try again later, repeated tirelessly by a complacent woman in middle age.

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: The Book That Matters Most
    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood
    BookBrowse First Impression reviewers appreciated the innovative structure of The Book That Matters ...
  • Book Jacket: The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach
    BookBrowse First Impression reviewers were uniformly impressed by this difficult yet heartwarming ...
  • Book Jacket: Boy Erased
    Boy Erased
    by Garrard Conley
    Growing up in rural Arkansas, Garrard Conley did not quite fit the mold of his strait-laced, ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
    by Bryn Greenwood

    A memorable coming-of-age tale about loyalty, defiance, and the power of love.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood

    An enthralling novel about love, loss, secrets and friendship.

    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 Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

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.