The Constant Gardener, by John Le Carre, is a novel filled with mystery and intrigue. I’ll try not to give anything away in my review so I don’t spoil the outcome for anyone.
The book opens with the murder of Tessa Quayle. Tessa’s husband Justin works for the British High Commission in Nairobi, and Tessa takes it upon herself to visit African women in the villages. On these visits, she discovers a drug cover up – the medicine Dypraxa, for TB, actually does more harm than good. She discovers the people responsible for this terrible cover-up, but tells her husband nothing. When Tessa is murdered with her partner Bluhm, Justin does not know anything about Tessa’s secret mission.
However, some people in power within the High Commission do know what Tessa was up to, and why her murderers had motive. They rush to cover up the story – gather all of Tessa’s information and reports and destroy them. Justin is able to save Tessa’s laptop and a few of her private documents and hide them from his superiors. He then disappears. He pretends to be on sick leave, and the High Commission spreads rumors that he is mentally unstable and work furiously to find him before he discovers the truth. He remains one step ahead of his enemies and follows Tessa’s trail, unearthing what she discovered. Justin sends letters periodically to his lawyer’s aunt, staying under the radar but in communication. In the end, Justin goes to the spot where Tessa was murdered. I won’t reveal what happens, but the ending, although sad, leaves you with a sense that Justin found a way to win despite the odds.