John Le Carre, , read by the author. . Time Warner AudioBooks, $31.98 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-58621-663-4

Le Carré's angry, ultimately heartbreaking novel focuses on Ted Mundy, a good-natured British expat in Germany who's eking out a mundane existence guiding tourists through Bavarian castles when his longlost friend Sasha, a diminutive German anarchist, appears to offer him financial and ideological salvation. A surprisingly long flashback takes listeners from Ted and Sasha's first meeting in West Berlin in 1969 through the Cold War and, consequently, their careers as spies, before returning to Sasha's present scheme to save the world from Western imperialism. The story melds the poignant personal tale of Mundy's unwavering altruism with the author's sardonic take on the perfidy of economic globalization. Both themes are well-preserved in this seamless abridgement. No one reads Le Carré better than Le Carré. His nuances, accents and inflections are as brilliantly precise as his prose. For example, Le Carré lends Mundy's voice a note of optimistic naïveté that eventually ages into a soft, measured fatalism, but for the ever-aggressive Sasha, his voice takes on a nervous intensity. Mood-appropriate music serves as a bridge between chapters—a Sousa-like march here, a vaguely Beatlesque riff there—adding to this well-produced audio package. Simultaneous release with the Little, Brown hardcover (Forecasts, Nov. 24, 2003). (Jan.)