John le Carré: The author's official website

The Mission Song

Bruno Salvador, known to friends and enemies alike as Salvo, is the ever-innocent, twenty-nine-year-old orphaned love-child of a Catholic Irish missionary and a Congolese headman’s daughter. Educated first at mission school in the East Congolese province of Kivu, and later at a discreet sanctuary for the secret sons of Rome, Salvo is inspired by his mentor Brother Michael to train as a professional interpreter in the minority African languages of which, almost from birth, he has been an obsessive collector.

Soon a rising star in his profession, he is courted by City corporations, hospitals, law courts, the Immigration services and — inevitably — the mushrooming overworld of British Intelligence. He is also courted — and won — by the all-white, Surrey-born Penelope, star reporter on one of our great national newspapers, whom with typical impulsiveness he promptly marries.

Yet even as the story opens, a contrary and irresistible love is dawning in him. Despatched to a no-name island in the North Sea to attend a top-secret meeting between Western financiers and East Congolese warlords, Salvo is obliged to interpret matters never intended for his re-awoken African conscience.

“In a 1977 interview, John le Carré was asked what he wanted from life. ?Although it sounds pious,? he responded, ?I would like to get better as a writer. I would like to . . . become perhaps more sheer, in some ways to reduce, in other ways to concentrate the scope as it were.? The Mission Song, his twentieth novel, is one of his tautest works, harking back to the lean thrillers he wrote in the early 1960s. It is a fast-paced, entertaining book, in which most of the action takes place over the course of a few days in London and on a nameless northern island.”
The Times

“The Mission Song is a marvelous return to the John le Carré of old, with all the captivating characters, finely rendered landscapes and messy complexities that have always powered his best work. One can easily imagine Bruno Salvador sitting down to lunch with George Smiley and debating the familiar question: Can we truly justify our wicked spies?”
San Francisco Chronicle

The Mission Song