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 by John Le Carre X
The Constant Gardener by John Le Carre
  • 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


Woodrow was already at the door. "And you've told nobody?"

"Not a soul."

"Have the police?"

"They say no. But they can't answer for Lodwar and I shouldn't think they can answer for themselves."

"And Justin's been told nothing as far as you know."

"Correct."

"Where is he?"

"In his office, I assume."

"Keep him there."

"He came in early. It's what he does when Tessa's on a field trip. Do you want me to cancel the meeting?"

"Wait."

Aware by now, if he ever doubted it, that he was coping with a Force Twelve scandal as well as a tragedy, Woodrow darted up a back staircase marked Authorized Staff Only and entered a glum passage that led to a closed steel door with an eyehole and a bell button. A camera scanned him while he pressed the button. The door was opened by a willowy redheaded woman in jeans and a flowered smock. Sheila, their number two, Swahili speaker, he thought automatically.

"Where's Tim?" he asked.

Sheila pressed a buzzer then spoke into a box. "It's Sandy in a hurry."

"Hold for figures one minute," cried an expansive male voice.

They held.

"Coast now totally clear," the same voice reported as another door burped open.

Sheila stood back and Woodrow strode past her into the room. Tim Donohue, the six-foot-six Head of Station, was looming in front of his desk. He must have been clearing it, for there was not a paper in sight. Donohue looked even sicker than usual. Woodrow's wife

Gloria insisted he was dying. Sunken, colorless cheeks. Nests of crumbling skin below the drooping yellowed eyes. The straggling mustache clawed downward in comic despair.

"Sandy. Greetings. What can we do you for?" he cried, peering down on Woodrow through his bifocals and grinning his skull's grin.

He comes too close, Woodrow remembered. He overflies your territory and intercepts your signals before you make them. "Tessa Quayle seems to have been killed somewhere near Lake Turkana," he said, feeling a vindictive urge to shock. "There's a place called Oasis Lodge. I need to talk to the owner by radio."

This is how they're trained, he thought. Rule one: never show your feelings, if you have any. Sheila's freckled features, frozen in pensive rejection. Tim Donohue still grinning his foolish grin -- but then the grin hadn't meant anything in the first place.

"Been what, old boy? Say again?"

"Killed. Method unknown or the police aren't saying. The driver of her jeep had his head hacked off. That's the story."

"Killed and robbed?"

"Just killed."

"Near Lake Turkana."

"Yes."

"What the hell was she doing up there?"

"I've no idea. Visiting the Leakey site, allegedly."

"Does Justin know?"

"Not yet."

"Anyone else we know involved?"

"One of the things I'm trying to find out."

Donohue led the way to a soundproofed communications booth that Woodrow had never seen before. Colored telephones with cavities for code lozenges. A fax machine resting on what looked like an oil drum. A radio set made of stippled green metal boxes. A home-printed directory lying on top of them. So this is how our spies whisper to each other from inside our buildings, he thought. Overworld or underworld? He never knew. Donohue sat himself at the radio, studied the directory, then fumbled the controls with trembling white fingers while he intoned, "ZNB 85, ZNB 85 calling TKA 60," like a hero in a war film. "TKA 60, do you read me, please? Over. Oasis, do you read me, Oasis? Over."

A burst of atmospherics was followed by a challenging, "Oasis here. Loud and clear, mister. Who are you? Over" -- spoken in a raffish German accent.

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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: How to Stop Time
    How to Stop Time
    by Matt Haig
    Tom Hazard, the protagonist of How to Stop Time, is afflicted with a condition of semi-immortality ...
  • Book Jacket: Mothers of Sparta
    Mothers of Sparta
    by Dawn Davies
    What it's about:
    The tagline on the back cover of Mothers of Sparta says it all: "Some women...
  • Book Jacket: Fortress America
    Fortress America
    by Elaine Tyler May
    In Fortress America, Elaine Tyler May presents a fascinating but alarming portrait of America's...
  • Book Jacket: The Friend
    The Friend
    by Sigrid Nunez
    Sigrid Nunez is one of the most underrated authors writing today. Her work is so lovely, so ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

A nuanced portrait of war, and of three women haunted by the past and the secrets they hold.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Next Year in Havana
    by Chanel Cleeton

    a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she finds a family secret hidden since the revolution.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Only Child
    by Rhiannon Navin

    A dazzling, tenderhearted debut about healing, family, and the exquisite wisdom of children.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore

The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore

A gripping novel from the award-winning author of For Today I Am a Boy.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

G O T P, B The P, F T P

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.