Author: John le Carré
Smiley had just run what he considered a routine security check on Samuel Fennon when the man turned up dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Smiley is initially baffled as Fennon had essentially come out clean. Probing into the past - Fennon's, Fennon's wife's and also his own, Smiley discovers a story more complicated than he initially assumed.
My previous exposure to Smiley was only on screen: Alec Guinness in the BBC's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley's People and Gary Oldman in the feature film version of TTSS. It's Guinness's face (without the Kenobi beard) I imagined throughout the book. I like the character a great deal, though his development is a bit herky jerky, the background essentials laid out matter-of-factly in the first chapter. Other details emerge more slowly as the story requires, the pattern I would have preferred from the beginning.
Overall, the story has a more earthy feel than Bond. John le Carré draws from his own career in British intelligence for his work, bringing a strong sense of realism. I thoroughly enjoyed the story despite figuring out the answer to the mystery before George did. I am definitely up for more.