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Preview — Call for the Dead by John le Carré
Call for the Dead (George Smiley #1)
George Smiley had liked Samuel Fennan, and now Fennan was dead...more
In many ways, Call for the Dead is a book of its time. It opens with a chapter setting out ‘A Brief History of George Smiley’, something a modern novelist might find difficult to get away with. But the ‘backstory’ of S...more
This book—which I believe was his first—reminded me a great deal of Graham Greene's work: It was short, fast-paced, and highly entertaining. But even in so short a book his talent for weaving intricately tangled webs of espionage asserts itself. He strings the reader along throughout the narrative dropping little clues here and there, slowly revealing t...more
One of the things that makes George Smiley stand out among the others of his ilk is his looks, oddly enough. He is a quiet, ordina...more
Smiley is asked to interview a man in the Foreign Office, Samuel Fennan, in a routine security check. Fennan has been under suspicion of Communist sympathies but Smiley talks to him as they walk i...more
"When Lady Ann Sercomb married George Smiley towards the end of the war she described hi...more
The mystery itself is straight-forward: I fig...more
I'm glad I did. CALL FOR THE DEAD is a pretty straight-foward murder mystery with spy trappings, but it serves as a fine introduction to Smiley and what makes him tick. Smiley, who is clearly...more
was really crazy about spy novels. I'm rereading LeCarre's old ones
though. He's good. This one introduces the character of George Smiley
who figures in the best of his spy fiction a decade later (Books like
Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy, The Honorable Schoolboy and Smiley's
Smiley, an secret intelligence officer , interviews a Foreign Office
official about whom his bosses have received an anonymous letter
saying he's a Communi...more
Indeed the density and complexity of the characters he portrayts, is very close to reality. This is not for everyone.
In the case of the main character of this first book, George Smiley, who I already knew from other works, such complexity and ambiguity are all too evident.
Still "Call for th...more
A couple years ago when I had The Spy Who Came in from the Cold on my reading list I found an inelegantly bound collection of John le Carré novels at a used friends of the library bookstore. The edition contained le Carré's first five novels. I enjoyed The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and forgot about the rest of the novels in the edition until a couple days ago when I was looking for something of a palette cleaners after reading Freedom. Unable for some reason to proceed straight to the new DF...more
I haven't ye...more
CALL FOR THE DEAD introduces George Smiley, quite literally. The first chapter is a brief biography of the character leading up to the novel's events.
Le Carre's exceptional prose elevates what is otherwise a pretty simple murder mystery with espionage elements. Smiley investigates the suspicious death of a possible double agent, and uncovers a spy ring operating in London. Classic spycraft hijinks ensue.
Interestingly enough le Carre's cold...more
This was my first LeCarre book. I found out he used to work for British Intelligence (aka a spy) so the whole 'write what you know' works here. Smiley and his friend/cohort Mendel made a good team. LeCarre developed the characters well but probably could have done a little more there. The book started out a little stiff and dry and I almost abandoned it but got better after a few chapters.
It felt like ha...more
Le Carre writes a short, intense, gripping, complex, human, and moving story of the death of a possible traitor within the Foreign Office, its investigation by George Smiley, and the consequences and outcome.
At 156 pages, this book shows the skill of the author's craft, as there is as much content as in most current, badly-edited 400 page blockbusters. Character, motive, background are all provided with brilliant economy.
Comparisons would be with...more
But perhaps not.
George Smiley has become an iconic character, at least in my little corner of the world, even without my ever having encoun...more
'Call for the Dead' reads more like a detective novel than Le Carre's later works. In it, the immortally old George Smiley teams with...more
"take your hands off me! Do you think I'm yours because I don't belong to them? Go away! Go away and kill Freitag and Dieter, keep the game alive, Mr Smiley. But don't think I'm on your side, d'you hear? Because I'm the wandering Jewess, theno-man's land, the battlefieldfor your toy soldiers. You can kick me and trample on me, see, but never, never touch me, never tell me you're sorry, d'you hear? Now get out! Go away and kill"
The first novel by John le Carré is also the 1st novel with the icon...more
When you're coming from a movie--and a recent one, at that--you don't really know what to expect; novels are generally very different from their movie counterparts and, more, I was going to the beginning of the George Smiley books, which meant it was a different s...more