Is it possible that we are the first ones to notice that John le Carré has used essentially the same name for two different characters in two different books? We sure like to think so, and judging by a quick Google search (at 2pm PDT, Oct. 11, 2010, let it be recorded) we may well be the first.
In his new novel, Our Kind of Traitor, a central character is named Peregrine (Perry) Makepiece. He's an Oxford don who, bored with teaching, goes on vacation to Antigua and soon becomes involved with Russian mobsters, money-laundering, and shifty City of London bankers. (Or so we've been reading in reviews of the book published in the UK and related territories.)
In A Perfect Spy, le Carré names a character Sir Makepeace Watermaster. He's the father-in-law of Rick Pym, the father of the book's protagonist, Magnus Pym. To say the least, Watermaster's not happy about his daughter's having married this charming and always-on-the-run con man.
Of course, one of the great joys of le Carré always has been the names he gives his characters: Jack Brotherhood, Toby Esterhaze, Jonathan Pine, and George Smiley, for instance. Perhaps, as many critics state, only Charles Dickens is better at such naming. And perhaps Makepiece/peace is not as rare as we, situated in America, tend to think. But it certainly isn't a name like Bob or Joe or even George.
In any case, we look forward to reading the new book, which Amazon.com this morning informed us is on its way, slated to arrive at our door on the morning of the official pub date, Oct. 12. Reviews, so far, have been mixed, but that won't stop us from reading it. First, though, there's Graham Greene's The Heart of the Matter to finish - a marvelous book. And once we've read Our Kind of Traitor, all that will be left for us to read of le Carré's will be his long-neglected and largely dismissed early novel, The Naive and Sentimental Lover, and his second African intrigue, The Mission Song. Of course, most of his books are worthy of re-reading; even if one already knows how things will turn out, the characters and overall writing are quite superb.