Wednesday, August 24, 2011

[Book Review] CALL FOR THE DEAD by John Le Carre


Mystery fiction was the topic of June’s "What’s Your Flavor?" session. Participants were required to select, read, and review a mystery novel.

Bryan reviews CALL FOR THE DEAD by John Le Carre (Walker, 1962)

John Le Carre’s first novel, Call for the Dead serves as a taut, concise introduction to the novelist’s now recognizable style of writing and to the character upon whom Le Carre centered much of his subsequent spy-thriller fiction, British intelligence agent George Smiley.

In this first episode, Smiley brings himself into an investigation of the ostensible suicide of a government ministry official who apparently feared apprehension as a spy for the East German government. With the help of veteran London Metropolitan Police Inspector Mendel, Smiley unravels instead a murder meant to cover up a spy network—in the process, reacquainting himself with both his turbulent wartime espionage past and enemy agents he then considered compatriots.

A well-paced, if in places thinly developed narrative, Call for the Dead provides an engrossing read, meshing intrigue, grittiness, irony, and fallible humanity in a convincing, distinctive way.


Bryan Massey, East Shelby Library

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