Harry Pendel is the charismatic proprietor of Pendel and Braithwaite Limitada of Panama, through whose doors everyone who is anyone in Central America passes; Andrew Osnard, mysterious and fleshly, is a spy. His secret mission is two-pronged: to keep a watchful eye on the political manoeuvrings leading up to the American handover of the Panama Canal on 31st December 1999; and to secure for himself the immense private fortune that has until now churlishly eluded him.
The story felt like an earlier draft of Absolute Friends, but not as compelling. Better than your average thriller, but still not recommended.
(And the disclaimer at the end about how the real British embassy staff are nothing like what's portraited in the novel kinda destroys the whole impact of the book. Why write a book implying a certain view of the how the world works then say, on the last page, "BTW I don't believe a word of this".)
'Arguably his best book since The Spy Who Came in from the Cold', says The times Educational Supplement on the cover. Well, no.
Makes me think that this is what happened to the USA in its intelligence gathering prior to the Iraq war.
The book was a bit slow going. The interspersed humor kept me going though.
The plot did have lengthy bits but never once was I bored. The politics were relatively easy to follow and I enjoyed learning more about a country I knew nothing about.
Not one of LeCarré's best, but certainly a good example of this work, and an entertaining read.