The Constant Gardener

By John Le Carré,

Book cover of The Constant Gardener

Book description

'The book breathes life, anger and excitement' Observer

Tessa Quayle, a brilliant and beautiful young social activist, has been found brutally murdered by Lake Turkana in Nairobi. The rumours are that she was faithless, careless, but her husband Justin, a reserved, garden-loving British diplomat, refuses to believe them. As he…


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Why read it?

5 authors picked The Constant Gardener as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Published in 2001, The Constant Gardener is my favorite le Carre Novel. A British diplomat in Nairobi, Justin Quayle, is informed his activist wife, Tess has been killed in a remote part of Kenya along with a doctor friend. As Quayle investigates her life (in a similar way to Eric Ambler unfolds Dimitrios’s life), he uncovers her work exposing large pharmaceutical companies’ unethical experiments in the poorest regions of Africa. This leads to her brutal death and cover-up at a diplomatic and political level. It is an exceptional book that makes you rethink how medicine and the industry behind it…

From Robert's list on spies, spying and cold war thrillers.

This is a thriller that took me somewhere I never expected (Kenya) and highlighted an enemy I hadn’t encountered before (Big Pharma). Until then, I had grown used to individuals and assassins being the antagonists in political thrillers when I first picked this up. Le Carré makes the Three Bees corporation at the heart of the corruption and cover-up and murder truly chilling.

One needn’t require a gun to prove menacing. Le Carré showed me that all you need is money and power. 

I fully support the theme of this novel, the moral imperative of fighting injustice even when the odds are overwhelmingly against you, even when it is not officially your job.

In this thriller novel, an ordinary man discovers that the murder of his activist wife is somehow connected to a sinister conspiracy involving the global pharmaceutical industry. He is a simple man whose main passion in life is gardening, yet his moral outrage compels him to undertake an investigation for which he has no training or expertise.

I admire this character’s courage in the face of adversity, his perseverance in…

Le Carré’s triumphant skewering of modern capitalist exploitation of Africa. Bringing his genius in exploring betrayal and the politics of what people choose to do and see or not see to get by every day to an exploration of modern exploitation. A passionately angry page-turner with a complex plot and deep humanity.

From Iain's list on African set political thrillers.

Le Carre is one of the greats, for me, he is the perfect blend of great plot choices, dialogue, and brilliantly succinct description. This book is classic Le Carre, set in and around the emotional labyrinth of the British High Commission in 1980s Nairobi, the murder of a promiscuous young wife of a British diplomat leads to corporate corruption involving the Aids pandemic and big Pharma. As an author, Carre has always taught me the importance of in-depth characterisation and solid back-story. No one has written so grippingly about male menopause and the existentially exhausted world of post-colonial British spydom.…

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