An introduction to the characters & twisted plot of The Night Manager, written by John Le Carre
a blog by Narcy
Richard Onslow Roper is the worst man in the world. He is an arms dealer and an all round British criminal. One snow ridden night, he arrives at Meister’s in Switzerland, a hotel for the vastly rich with his mistress, Jed, his son Daniel, and an entourage made up of his official bodyguards, Frisky, Tabby, and Corkoran. Also hanging on are Sandy Langbourne and his miserable wife.
Burr, an intelligence man from Whitehall plants one Jonathan Pine at Meister’s to work as the night manager. The two men meet and immediately have a mutual impact on each other. Once all the characters have been introduced, we are then taken back and allowed to delve into Pine’s story and how he was recruited. From Cairo, where Pine first hears Roper’s name from an Arab beauty called Sophie, to Switzerland, a joint American British operation is mounted and christened 'Limpet.'
Due to her indiscretion, Sophie is murdered and Pine discovers her body. This angers him and he joins the elaborate sting operation being mounted by Goodhew and Burr of the MI6. After a phony kidnapping attempt of Daniel, Roper’s son, Pine is brought into the Roper family and the "worst man in the world" begins to like him. Once he gains Roper’s confidence, Pine is promptly embroiled his latest escapade, a massive arms and drug exchange with a Colombian cartel. Roper wishes to sell the drugs for an astronomical amount of money in Europe.
Apostoll the lawyer, or Appetites as Roper calls him, is also informing the FBI and DEA. Nevertheless, due to corrupt parties profiting from the drug business, a secret cabal called Flagship betrays and ruins Burr’s operation by revealing Pine’s true identity. Roper tortures Pine aboard his yacht, the Iron Pasha. However, Burr is determined to get his man out and decides to tell Sir Anthony Joyston Bradshaw, another lawyer working for Roper that he possesses great evidence about Roper’s operation. This is a bluff, which Bradshaw promptly follows and Roper ends up releasing Pine. Pine is now in love with Roper’s mistress, Jed.
The book ends ambiguously. Pine and Jed live in England in isolation, whereas Roper completes his deal and Burr and his friends are discredited.
I enjoyed reading this book purely because it started off without actually betraying a storyline to me to start with. I wrestled with much confusion and equal amounts of shock whilst reading and going back in time with Jonathan Pine, as if he was next to me telling me his story. Although Jed was an innocent character who happened to get caught up in the complications, I personally didn’t like her, she seemed like a superfluous person in the story. So far, I have read most of, if not all of Le Carre’s books because they are spy thrillers and I enjoy reading that particular genre. Nevertheless, if I have inspired you to read this, I must warn you that unlike many other books, his books have minimal action in them and have a rather plodding, funereal feel to them.
Still, I prefer Le Carre to Ian Fleming.