Helen's Reviews > A Murder of Quality

A Murder of Quality by John le Carré
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Apr 27, 2011

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Read in April, 2011

Smiley as Miss Marple, solving the brutal murder of an unpopular teacher's unpopular wife at an upper class prep school, predating The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. This book takes place fifteen years after the end of World War II, a time when England's sharply divided classes merged to fight against a common enemy. The plot explores the ragged edges between town and gown, between ordinary people and Gentlemen, and the awful people to whom these things matter.

Frankly, I kept waiting for Soviet spies to show up. They didn't. Still, le Carre's characterizations, prose and dialogue are always a joy to read, even here. Particularly wonderful was the snarky, vicious dialogue disguised as polite conversation, the mean and surely accurate descriptions of the teachers and the staff at the school. Le Carre worked at Eton, so he knows exactly what these people are like, the things they say, and what makes them tick. A fun read, if you're not expecting Cold War ambiguity.
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08/02 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim I hadn't heard of this! Thanks for the review, HMS


Helen Hey, Jim-
The plot wasn't so believable. But it was fun for other reasons--watching him stretch his muscles, as he grows into a great writer.


message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim It reminds me of the Jim Priddeaux scenes in Tinker Tailor -- I wonder if there's a boy named Jumbo?

Thanks for: "Frankly, I kept waiting for Soviet spies to show up." I want that on a t-shirt, please.


Helen Oh my God. You're right. That would be awesome. Order one for me too, please.

Yes, I also thought of the school scenes in Tinker Tailor. Maybe he mellowed a bit by the time he wrote those--here, he's still white hot with anger.


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