An epic tale of loyalty and betrayal set in the West Berlin of the 1960s through to the present day of terrorism and new alliances.
A ferocious new novel from the master: when a man's good heart is his worst enemy. . .
By chance and not by choice, Ted Mundy, eternal striver, failed writer, and expatriate son of a British Army officer, used to be a spy. But that was in the good old Cold War days when a cinder-block wall divided Berlin and the enemy was easy to recognize.
Today, Mundy is a down-at-heel 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 his old German student friend, radical, and one-time 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 Carré 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 Carré fans have been waiting for, a brilliant, ferocious, heartbreaking work for the ages.
ON THE DAY his destiny returned to claim him, Ted Mundy was sporting a bowler hat and balancing on a soapbox in one of Mad King Ludwig's castles in Bavaria. It wasn't a classic bowler, more your Laurel and Hardy than Savile Row. It wasn't an English hat, despite the Union Jack blazoned in Oriental silk on the handkerchief pocket of his elderly tweed jacket. The maker's grease-stained label on the inside of the crown proclaimed it to be the work of Messrs. Steinmatzky & Sons, of Vienna.
And since it wasn't his own hat - as he hastened to explain to any luckless stranger, preferably female, who fell victim to his boundless accessibility - neither was it a piece of self-castigation. "It's a hat of office, madam," he would insist, garrulously begging her pardon in a set piece he had off perfectly. "A gem of history, briefly entrusted to me by generations of previous incumbents of my post - wandering scholars, poets, dreamers, men of the cloth - and ...
An excellent book on a timely subject.
If you liked Absolute Friends, try these:
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"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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