Hodder & Stoughton (2001), 512 pages
My Dad had a spare copy of this book (I think a neighbour gave it to him) which I received at least three years ago. It’s sat on the shelf glaring at me for those years so I eventually thought I’d bite the bullet and read the thing. I enjoyed the film, starring Rachel Weisz and Ralph Feinnes, so I knew the general plot.
The Constant Gardener has a plot that goes deeper than the conventional thriller. Issues such as the power of pharmaceutical companies in Africa, the role of former colonisers in post-colonial states, and the unaccountability of government bureaucrats are all covered.
While there is plenty of action, spread across Europe and Africa, Le Carré’s great skill is to create believable characters. The characters are not merely tracks along which the plot runs. They shift and twist in the breeze of changing circumstances, memory, and new revelations.
The Constant Gardener does not have a happy ending. If you are looking for the cathartic effects of justice you will be disappointed. However if you want to look look into a dark immoral world where money, power, and corruption intersect then The Constant Gardener is a novel for you.