Monday, October 23, 2017

On the Coffee Table: A Murder of Quality

Title: A Murder of Quality
Author: John le Carré
via Amazon
George Smiley is back.  This time, the brilliant yet eternally marginalized former spook, is investigating a murder at a prestigious English prep school.  This, the second Smiley novel, is a straight up mystery story, very little espionage apart from occasional allusions to the protagonist's past.  We get some insight into Smiley and his disastrous marriage in particular but again, details are sparing.  Those hoping for a spy novel would be disappointed but as a whodunit, it's not bad - lots of good misdirection.

The occasional morsels about Smiley's history are satisfying.  I especially appreciated this passage, one that reveals much of the art behind our hero's unassuming character:
The byways of espionage are not populated by the brash and colourful adventurers of fiction.  A man who, like Smiley, has lived for years among his country's enemies learns only one prayer: that he man never, never be noticed.  Assimilation is his highest aim, he learns to love the crowds who pass him in the street without a glance...he could embrace the shoppers who jostle him in their impatience...He could adore the officials, the police, the bus conductors, for the terse indifference of their attitudes.
Definitely up for more.  Next in the series is a classic of the genre: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.


  1. I should read these. I love John Le Carre.

  2. I think they did a BBC series based on this one. The plot seems familiar, at any rate.

    1. They did. I haven't seen it but I'm interested now. Christian Bale was in it!

    2. I don't remember Christian Bale. What I watched was one of the Alec Guinness series.

    3. Denholm Elliott played Smiley in Murder of Quality. Alec Guinness played the part twice: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Smiley's People.