About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mission Song by John Le Carre

45. - 455.) Mission Song by John Le Carre – Salvo, a Congolese zebra (white father and black mother) in London, is a skilled linguist and interpreter. He can speak a pack of languages starting with English, French and Swahili and including a variety from the Congo. The English Secret Service hires him to translate at a meeting between a new messianic leader for the Eastern Congo and representatives of three groups within the area. As Salvo is leaving London his marriage is dissolving and a new love affair commencing. At the conference Salvo skillfully handles his official translations and listening to secret recordings of private conversations. When he listens to some private conversations to which he should not have listened, he learns the official purpose of a grand reconciliation of the region under a charismatic leader is a façade for yet another grab at the valuable mineral resources. Salvo is an idealist who seeks to prevent yet another injustice perpetrated on his homeland by greedy foreigners. I feared as bleak and bitter an ending as the The Constant Gardner or Absolute Friends. Salvo is dealt with more discreetly by the Establishment. Salvo is another amazing character. Le Carre is such a master at creating fascinating characters. It was a good but not great book. (Oct. 28/08)
Since reading this book the Congo has continued to be in conflict. Little has changed. If anything real life in the Congo is more bizarre than any author could credibly concoct. 


  1. Bill, I absolutely agree that le Carre creates "fascinating characters" and I found that in two of his books that I read last, "The Contant Gardener" and "The Tailor of Panama." I was quite overwhelmed by "The Contant Gardener" and the exposure of the sinister activities of a powerful western pharma company in Africa. The film version was pretty good too. I can't think of another espionage author whose espionage-related novels can prick one's conscience as le Carre does. I have "The Mission Song," too, and I hope to read it soon.

  2. Bill - In my opinion, le Carré is one of the the finest thriller writers we've had. And this one sounds no different as far as that goes. The setting sounds really interesting too; I'm glad you thought it was a good read.

  3. Prashant: Thanks for the comment. Le Carre has a great talent for making the reader feel uncomfortable about moral issues.

  4. Margot: Thanks for the comment. We do not traditionally think of espionage in Africa. Considering the state of the world I expect more spy stories to involve that continent.