Author: John le Carré
As we meet Jonathan Pine, he is the night manager of a ritzy hotel in Zurich. The new guests for the evening are arms-dealing king pin Richard Roper and his entourage. Unknown to Roper, Pine is already aware of him and the source of his wealth from a previous encounter in Cairo. Roper had killed the woman Pine loved, or at least arranged for her killing. Out for personal revenge and spurred by his own needs for redemption, Pine makes contact with British intelligence and becomes the point man in a scheme to bring Roper down.
After devoting some time to developing a credible back story, Pine ingratiates himself with Roper by rescuing his son in a staged kidnapping attempt. Roper rewards Pine by giving him a cushy job in the operation. While trying to gather information for his intel handlers, Pine dances around the suspicions of Roper's inner circle as well as the increasing affections of his girlfriend, Jed.
The differences between book and miniseries are many. The novel was le Carré's first after the end of the Cold War. Latin American drug cartels were the big concern. The 2016 adaptation plays more on worries about armed militias in the Middle East. In the book, Olivia Colman's character Burr is a man. Jed is British in the book, American in the series with a different backstory. The endings are significantly different, particularly important for anyone who has experienced one but not the other.
I think Hugh Laurie's involvement in the project (both he and Hiddleston also have executive producer credits for the miniseries) is interesting. Laurie himself wrote a novel, The Gun Seller, which also dealt with the arms trade. Clearly it is an issue of importance to him, explaining his willingness to play the villain and also, perhaps, the different ending to the miniseries.
I definitely recommend the book. A lot of material is devoted to the bureaucratic battles behind the scenes in London. That bit's not as interesting to me but as long as the story sticks with Pine, it moves quickly.