Call for the Dead by John Le Carre

Call for the Dead

I mentioned to a family member that I was keen to watch the movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but was first wanting to read the book. She had been culling their extensive library and bundled up a package of Le Carre books for me with instructions to read ‘Call for the Dead’ before Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as this was the book that introduces the character George Smiley. I have a great love of doing things in order and sytematically, but it also helped in that I could not locate Tinker in any of my regular second hand book shops – most likely due to the release of the movie. (I am yet to watch the movie, and wont do so until I have read the book; there goes my latent order-loving issues again).

When I read Call for the Dead I must say I was quite surprised at the character of George Smiley. To be honest I had no preconceptions as to what he would be like, but I was reading about a man, honourable and conscientious, but jaded with his job in the British Secret Service; this is certainly no James Bond.

Smiley appears to be a disillusioned man who personal life was a reflection of his present capacity to enjoy anything. His answer is to be left alone. But the story invigorates when the investigation of another agents apparent suicide leads to Smiley’s discovery that everything is not as it seems.

This book is short but it was great, a real combination of a good old mystery and engrossing spy story, with lots of twists and turns. The characters are fabulous and very well crafted and Smiley in particular, with all his faults and weaknesses is very believable.

deadly affairIn my research for this review I have also learnt that the movie ‘The Deadly Affair’  was made starring James Mason, based on the book Call for the Dead – that would be worth watching. I would also really recommend this book and I’m looking forward to reading the next George Smiley instalment ‘A Murder of Quality’.


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