Book Review #02: The Night Manager (by John le Carré)

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The Night Manager – by John le Carré


The Night Manager is an espionage novel by John le Carré. It was published in 1993 and it details an undercover operation to bring down Richard Onslow Roper, a major international arms dealer. The protagonist is Jonathan Pine, a former British soldier who works as a night manager at a hotel in Zurich.

When the story starts, Pine is on duty in Zurich when Roper comes in with his entourage. Upon seeing Roper, Pine is reminded of what happened to a woman he loved when he worked as a night manager in Cairo, and it involved Roper (who had had the woman killed for revealing his illicit activities).

The bulk of the novel is about Pine’s determination to help undo Roper’s criminal enterprise.


This one was a little tough for me to rate. I’d never heard of this book before last year, when the mini-series came out. I’d started watching it at that time, but then stopped, figuring I’d return to it later; maybe after I’d read/listened to the book. So that’s what I did. I listened to the book (and have started re-watching the series).


Performance: 4/5 stars

Performance-wise, a solid one by the narrator (Michael Jayston). For the most part, he was able to capture the essence of the various characters with enough distinction to be able to tell them apart. I especially liked how he did the voice of Sophie. Some characters were still difficult to distinguish, but I think that was more because of the (British) writing style than anything else.


Story: 3.5/5 stars

When I say British writing style … well, that’s hard to explain. I’ve encountered a style similar to le Carre’s, and that was with James Philip in his Guy Winter series. I’m not sure how to put it into words. But these two people write in such a way that you’re dropped into the middle of the story and expected to just absorb all the different characters right away (which can be confusing when it involves multiple characters within an organization or group and there hasn’t been a clear enough distinction between them in the beginning, for whatever reason).

On top of that, there were strange flashback-incorporated-into-present moments toward the beginning that made things feel disjointed. There were also some long-winded moments between side characters that I felt could have been toned down a bit. Another issue I had is because of the way the whole thing ended. It all felt rather … pointless. I can’t go into more specifics without spoiling the end.

And finally, something else that rankled me was [su_spoiler title=”SPOILER” icon=”arrow”]how Jonathan was found out by Roper’s people. Was it because of the idiot female who kept phoning him and saying his real name and it was recorded or discovered by them? It also seemed pretty dumb that the main character (Pine) himself kept talking to her instead of immediately pretending he didn’t know who she was talking about. For such a supposedly talented special agent type of dude, that was a pretty retarded move on his part. It made him seem like a brainless pansy, and it made me really dislike the female character.[/su_spoiler] End rant.

Anyway, these were problems for me, and it’s why the rating is notched down a bit more than it might have been otherwise.


Overall: 3.75

The upside to the story itself is that there weren’t a huge number of “Get ON with it!” moments. I mean, at 19 hours I guess it could have been worse, but it wasn’t, fortunately. I felt the whole thing flowed pretty smoothly despite some of its issues. That, in addition to the narrator’s performance are what keep this book from a 3.5 or less rating for me.

I’m interested to see how the mini-series compares now. So I can’t say I’m sorry I read the book. Just not as enthusiastic about it as I’d hoped to be.


The Night Manager novel is available here, in various formats. If you’re interested in The Night Manager mini-series, it’s available on Amazon Prime here.

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