‘Jonathan Pine is taking refuge from his demons as a night manager in a luxury hotel, until the day he agrees to stand up and be counted in the fight against a heart of darkness, the unholy alliance between the intelligence community and the secret arms trade. From the cliffs of west Cornwall via the Caribbean to post-Noriega Panama, Pine chases his quarry- the worst man in the world.’
I’d never heard of this book before the BBC TV Show came out but after reading an article about how different the TV Script was to the original novel I decided to give it a go.
I’m so glad I did.
Le Carre is a phenomenal story teller and a master of a thrilling crime novel. His characters, especially his main antagonist Jonathan Pine, is incredibly complex and yet, paradoxically, very straight forward. In other words, human. The plot is masterfully crafted and yet entirely believable and the sheer amount of work that has gone into creating the novel is evident from the outset.
The book focuses on Jonathan Pine, a hotelier who is working in Switzerland as a Night Manager when he comes face to face with Richard Roper, the Worst Man in the World. As the story progresses we learn about Jonathan’s past dealings with Roper which is still a source of immense guilt for him as his actions caused the death of a woman he loved. Jonathan soon finds himself volunteering to turn his life upside down, leave his quiet life in the hotel business and became a spy for the British Government. His task: to infiltrate Roper’s ranks and shut down his lucrative arms deals for good.
Jonathan Pine is an interesting hero, almost Bond-like in his proficiency as a spy and yet, more than Bond. He is patriotic to an almost American extent and yet driven more by revenge than any of the nobler aspects of his cause. There are even times when we, like Burr and the rest of the Intelligence Services both from Britain and America, question which side Pine is actually on. And yet, despite some of his ambiguous actions Pine is always clearly in the right, emphasising over and over again that it is Roper who is to blame.
Although the TV series was absolutely fantastic with an incredible cast led by the talented Tom Hiddleston, I have to give the book the edge. For me, there is so much more depth to the book due to the huge expanses of time that had to be cut from the TV script, purely to make it fit into the 6 episodes they had to use. These chunks really do help to create a sense of effort on Pine’s part as the months he spent in training to become the man he needs to be to attract Roper are laid bare. The TV show relies more on Hiddleston’s charm to help sell to Roper that he’s the right choice. Not that I’m complaining, it clearly works, I’m just saying that if you want to get more to grips with Pine’s character the book definitely helps.
Overall, its a fantastic read and a book I’d thoroughly recommend for anyone who just can’t get enough of Richard Roper, the Worst Man in the World and Jonathan Pine, the Night Manager.
Thoroughly loved it, 5 out of 5.