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Summary

Bruno Salvador has worked on clandestine missions before. A highly skilled interpreter, he is not a stranger to the Official Secrets Act. But this is the first time he has been asked to change his identity – and, worse still, his clothes – in service of his country.

Whisked to a remote island to interpret a top-secret conference between no-name financiers and Congolese warlords, Salvo’s excitement is only heightened by memories of the night before he left London, and his life-changing encounter with a beautiful nurse named Hannah.

Exit suddenly, the unassuming, happily married man Salvo believed himself to be. Enter in his place, the pseudonymous Brian Sinclar: spy, lover and perhaps, even, hero.

©2006 David Cornwell (P)2014 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

Critic reviews

"An incendiary tale ... le Carré's understanding of how the world ticks is, as always, machete sharp." ( USA Today)
"Le Carré's insight into the dense, dangerous nexus of corporate and government interests is chillingly assured." ( The New York Times Book Review)
"To categorise le Carré, as many do, as a 'spy' novelist is to do him a disservice; he uses the world of cloak-and-dagger much as Conrad used the sea – to explore the dark places in human nature." ( Washington Post Book World)

What listeners say about The Mission Song

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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Not particularly enjoyable

I had high expectations from such a famous author, especially after enjoying the TV adaptations of Tinker Tailor and Smilie's People, but unfortunately this proved a dull book. Very slow to get going, the story did not engage me, and I soon found myself concentration drifting, which rather defeats the purpose of an audiobook whilst traveling. I found the main character somewhat tedious, and could not engage with the rest. The story plodded along like a history lesson, and listening felt more like a chore. If you know something about African politics and Western manipulation, you may be better able to engage with the story.

The narrator is a well established professional actor who, due to his Nigerian roots, handled the African accents and voices with convincing ease and (as far as I know, not being African myself) authenticity. Unfortunately he overreached with Scottish, and alas I cringed at his Welsh. Can't win them all I suppose, and would again stress that he is otherwise, a good actor.

Overall I did not enjoy this book.

5 people found this helpful

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The Mission Song

Carre intuitively details character and circumstance to write a beautifully human story. It is wonderfuly read by David Oyelowa whose narration is sensitive and energetic. I'll look out for other titles he's read.

9 people found this helpful

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Well worth the price

What did you like most about The Mission Song?

This is a beautifully written story which is both compelling and authentic. The combination of Le Carre's writing with David Oyelowo's narration is something that I would like to experience again.

What does David Oyelowo bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

The rich variety of accents and intonation bring the story alive. He is right on the money with his narration.

3 people found this helpful

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Hard work but rewarding

This le Carre book is magnificently narrated which helps makes sense of the different players of all nationalities and persuasions. There's a lot to keep up with but it is a well crafted tale which leaves you feeling that it is all too true.

3 people found this helpful

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Engaging morality tale.

What made the experience of listening to The Mission Song the most enjoyable?

David Oyelewo's narration - how does he swop from an African lilt to Yorkshire brogue?

What about David Oyelowo’s performance did you like?

Brillian narration.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

3 people found this helpful

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The Mission Song

Perfectly written, perfectly read.

I took much longer to finish than expected, because I kept going over parts because of the beauty of the writing.
Salvo's realistically delineated character emerges naturally from his background , and the plot is exquisitely crafted.

1 person found this helpful

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  • FJ
  • 12-08-15

A story of corruption, beautifully read.

Having visited afrika on several occasions, this story took me right back there. Excellent, well researched and believable.

1 person found this helpful

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Teach me not to be a sceptic - Brilliant 5*

Would you consider the audio edition of The Mission Song to be better than the print version?

They are for different audiences, but the telling of the story on this is absolutely superb.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Salvo - performed with just the right degree of irony and arrogance.

Which character – as performed by David Oyelowo – was your favourite?

Ditto - Salvo - the narrator - is absolutely spot-on.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No - I couldn't have concentrated on the story adequately.

Any additional comments?

I was sceptical about a Le Carre not told by the author. As soon as it starts though you realise why JLC would have been the wrong choice and just how good David Oyelowo is.

1 person found this helpful

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Dreary

I have enjoyed many Le Carre audiobooks but this is a (poor) exception - unfortunately not recommended.

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Well researched, but not one of his better ones

For this novel, audiobook publisher Bolinda takes a break from Michael Jayston as narrator, and instead hands the rôle to David Oyelowo: understandably so, since the story is told entirely in the first person, by a British Congolese interpreter based in London, Bruno Salvador, who is called up for a mysterious job on an unnamed island somewhere off the coast of Denmark.

Although characteristically well researched, and demonstrating a good knowledge of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, its history, and its difficult relations with neighbouring countries and with itself, for me this is not one of le Carré’s finer contributions.

It’s been done by le Carré before, but in this instance the first-person doesn’t really work. Although eleven-and-a-half hours long, in the early chapters it feels more like a novella than a full-blown novel. One is tempted to make comparisons with Ian Fleming’s first-person relative non-success, ‘The Spy Who Loved Me.’ Bruno spends these early chapters rather ponderously recounting his life up to this point, with excessive introspection, and without anything really getting going. Also, early on we are introduced to the character of Hannah, who, although essential to the story, I did find rather flat and uninteresting. For some reason, during this section of the book David Oyelowo frequently sounds unnecessarily sarcastic, which did bug me after a while.

The story really kicks into gear from Chapter 8 with the appearance of a somewhat naïf and idealistic politician, The Mungaza. Hereafter it becomes a lot more interesting.

The high point of the story is a kind of tapdancing combat which takes place between one of the political protagonists, Haj, and Salvador who Haj knows is listening to him over an array of hidden microphones.

“It is in this manner that they commence their laborious descent,” we hear in Chapter 8. And so it is here. From this high point, it is thereafter a gradual decline to the end of the story — an end which, in my opinion, doesn’t entirely hang together.

All in all, then, not bad — worth a listen for the tapdancing scene alone — but definitely not one of le Carré’s better efforts.

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  • Bonnie
  • 18-04-19

Extremely great

Classic Le Carre, nuanced and entertaining. So well narrated, I enjoyed everything about this story. 85 stars