It is the early 1970s in Bonn, the small and provincial capital of West Germany. A very minor bureaucrat in the British Embassy named Leo Harting has disappeared, along with many top secret files, including the most sensitive of all: the Green File, in which records of negotiations with the German government over its potential entry into the Common Market and NATO are kept. The Foreign Office sends a tough invesigator named Alan Turner from London to look into the matter. Head of security at the embassy, Bradfield, insists Harting was a mere "temporary" worker who had no significant access to anything, but Bradfield alternately encourages and tries to shut down Turner's investigation. Other players are Ludwig Siebkron, the sinister head of the German Interior Ministry whose toughs seem to be everywhere, and Klaus Karfeld, a chemical industrialist who heads his own political party and is whipping the German right wing into a furor. Was Harting a Soviet spy who started to feel the heat and headed for Moscow? Or was something totally different going on? Le Carre drew upon his own experience as a functionary in the Bonn embassy to fill out his fifth novel, published in 1968.
This report prepared by David Loftus