The Night Manager by John le Carré

Hide away in Cairo with this spy thriller masterpiece

The Night Manager

‘The Egyptian authorities will not touch him,’ she says. ‘He bribes them and they keep their distance.’

The Night Manager - Cairo Polaroid

And you warned him, he thinks, sickened. You let him know you were a force to be reckoned with, not a weak woman to be discarded at his whim. You let him guess that you too had your secret weapon and you threatened to do what I did, without knowing I’d done it already.

‘The Egyptian authorities will not touch him,’ she says. ‘He bribes them and they keep their distance.’

‘Leave town,’ Jonathan tells her. ‘You know what the Hamids are like. Get out.’

‘The Hamids can have me killed as easily in Paris as in Cairo.’

‘Tell Freddie he must help you. Make him stick up for you against his brothers.’

‘Freddie is frightened of me. When he is not being brave he is a coward. Why are you staring at the traffic?’

Because it’s all there is to stare at apart from you and the wretched of the earth.

But she does not wait for an answer. Perhaps deep down this student of male weakness understands his shame.

‘I should like some coffee, please. Egyptian.’ And the brave smile that hurts him more than all the recrimination in the world.

He gives her coffee in a street market and drives her back to the hotel car park. He telephones the Ogilveys’ house and gets the maid. ‘Him out,’ she shouts. What about Mrs Ogilvey? ‘Him not there.’ He telephones the Embassy. Him not there either. Him gone to Alexandria for regatta.

He telephones the yacht club to leave a message. A drugged male voice says there is no regatta today.

Jonathan telephones an American friend named Larry Kermody in Luxor – Larry, is that guest suite of yours empty?

He telephones Sophie. ‘An archaeologist friend of mine in Luxor has a spare flat,’ he says. ‘It’s in a place called the Chicago House. You’re welcome to use it for a week or two.’ He searches for humour in the silence. ‘It’s a kind of monk’s cell for visiting academics, stuck onto the back of the house, with its own bit of rooftop. Nobody need even know you’re there.’

‘Will you come also, Mr Pine?’

Jonathan does not allow himself a moment’s hesitation. ‘Can you dump your bodyguard?’

‘He has already dumped himself. Freddie has apparently decided I am not worth protecting.’

He telephones a travel agent who does business with the hotel, a beery-voiced Englishwoman called Stella. ‘Stella, listen. Two VIP guests, incognito, want to fly to Luxor tonight, expense no object. I know the whole place is shut up. I know there are no planes. What can you do?’

A long silence. Stella is psychic. Stella has been in Cairo too long: ‘Well, I know you’re very important, darling, but who’s the girl?’ And she gives a foul, wheezing laugh that chokes and whistles in Jonathan’s ear long after he has rung off.

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