John Le Carre
MURDER MOST MACABRE
Times have changed drastically over recent centuries. There were physicians and healers like the Swiss-French Alexandre Yersin, who saved human race from bubonic plague by finding the bacteria responsible for its causation. Despite the pioneer work and bright career in Paris, Yersin shifted to Vietnam and worked there with least income. Today, the indebted Vietnamese have a road named after Yersin, a pagoda of him and a university named in his honour. He is worshipped like a God and even today, people pray at his pagoda.
No more such things are happening now. Healthcare is now an industry and somebody's sickness is someone's opportunity! And Pharmaceuticals industry is now a multi-billion dollar business. And there are dreaded diseases, some are new and others are old but with resistant strains. Tuberculosis is such old diseases making a virulent comeback -a multi-drug resistant (MDR) disease. If such a disease starts affecting rich and famous then the profits are huge, provided you develop the 'drug'.
Now, what is a better place than poor Africa to try and test these dangerous drugs? There are a lot of poor, ignorant and illiterate patients suffering from tuberculosis. And they are the ideal guinea pigs. Who cares how do poor people die?
But there is a tall, lithe and beautiful British social worker, wife of an amateur gardener and a member of British high commission in Nairobi. She has a pure heart and dares to probe some unusual deaths and suddenly finds something very dangerous and unusual. She along with her black African friend starts probing details of all these unexplained deaths. And she gets killed and her black friend is rumoured to be missing, probably abducted and possibly killed as well.
This is the basic plot around which the spymaster John Le Carre has weaved this business thriller. Carre is considered the best fictional spymaster and makes his characters authentic. His love for precision and details are apparent everywhere in the novel.
The roles of corporates, capitalists, diplomats, bureaucrats, and police are exposed cleverly throughout the novel and it makes the reader's heart pound. The quest of an ordinary man, the husband of diseased and disgraced wife, to get justice and respect for his wife is written in such a precision that it makes the book almost unputdownable except for a couple of pages when author goes for some medico-technical details. It also exposes western capitalism and its greed for money as well as politician-business nexus. How somebody's character is assassinated along with that person is written with passion. But the author has ended the book somewhat ambiguously. But overall it is a tantalizingly complex plot.
John Le Carre has also authored other famous thrillers like "The Spy Who Came In From Cold" and "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" along with a number of other top-sellers.
The novel – “The Constant Gardener” has also been made into a movie by Focus Features. It captures the whole story in 580 pages and costs $7.99 but always expect some major discount. It was published in year 2001 in hardcover by Scribner but in paperback by Pocket Star Books in year 2005.