Bibliophile's Reviews > Call for the Dead

Call for the Dead by John le Carré
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's review
May 04, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: mystery-and-suspense, britain, fiction, 2010
Read on May 04, 2010

Call for the Dead is John le Carré's first novel, as well as the first novel to feature George Smiley, who is indelibly linked in my mind with the great Sir Alec Guinness! In Call for the Dead, Smiley is considerably younger so he gets to do a bit of physical action stuff, but in general, he is, as PD James remarks in the introduction to the edition I read, the same George. We get lots of background on how/why Smiley joined the service and what the deal is with his mysterious wife Anne while Smiley investigates the death of a Foreign Service official who's been accused of being a Soviet spy ... and all in a mere 154 pages. Le Carré's great forte is moral ambiguity, and he shows this even in this early novel, in which the British agents are sometimes a bit less sympathetic than the German ones.

I'm dying to watch "The Deadly Affair", Sidney Lumet's adaptation of this novel starring - of all people! - James Mason as Smiley (with a name change) and Maximilian Schell as Dieter Frey, but unfortunately, it's not available on Region 1 dvd, so I shall have to wait!

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