As the world seems to move ever further beyond the comparatively clear-cut choices of the Cold War into a moral morass in which greed and cynicism seem the prime movers, le Carr's work has become increasingly radical, and this is by far his most passionately angry novel yet. Its premise is similar to that of Michael Palmer's Miracle CureDcynical pharmaceutical firm allied with devious doctors attempts to foist on the world a flawed but potentially hugely profitable drugDbut the difference is in the setting and the treatment. Le Carr has placed the prime action in Africa, where the drug is being surreptitiously tested on poor villagers. Tessa Quayle, married to a member of the British High Commission staff in corruption-riddled contemporary Kenya, gets wind of it and tries in vain to blow the whistle on the manufacturer and its smarmy African distributor. She is killed for her pains. At this point Justin Quayle, her older, gentlemanly husband, sets out to find out who killed her, and to stop the dangerous drug himselfDat a terrible cost. Le Carr's manifold skills at scene-setting and creating a range of fearsomely convincing English characters, from the bluffly absurd to the irredeemably corrupt, are at their smooth peak here. Both The Tailor of Panama and Single & Single were feeling their way toward this wholehearted assault on the way the world works, by a man who knows much better than most novelists writing today how it works. Now subject and style are one, and the result is heart-wrenching. (Jan. 9) Forecast: Admirers of the author who may have found some of the moral ambiguities and overelaborate set pieces of his last two books less than top-drawer le Carr will welcome a return to his best form. There is a wonderfully charismatic and idealistic heroine, which will bolster female readership, and the appearance of the book shortly after the release of a movie of Tailor (starring Jamie Lee Curtis) is bound to create an extra rush of media attention. Be prepared for the biggest le Carr sales in years. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Tessa Quayle, a beautiful young lawyer, is posted to Nairobi as the wife of British diplomat Justin Quayle. In the course of the voluntary work in which she becomes involved, she uncovers a trail of intentional malfeasance by the vast pharmaceutical multinational KVH, which is fast-tracking a new TB drug using Africans as guinea pigs. She first calls on the British government to intervene and then decides to take her evidence to Richard Leakey. Le Carr's latest novel opens with Tessa's being murdered on her way to Leakey. Tessa was accompanied by her friend Arnold Bluhm, whom the official investigation finds guilty of her murder. But Tessa's husband begins his own probe, following her trail of contacts around the world. Le Carr's ability to draw characters in depth, coupled with his unparalleled plotting and the authority with which he describes settings as various as Nairobi, Elba, Switzerland, and Canada, makes this a propulsive narrative and a lesson in the realities of a world run not by governments but by corporations. Highly recommended.DDavid Dodd, Marin Cty. Free Lib., San Rafael, CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.