Diane Ramirez's Reviews > Call for the Dead

Call for the Dead by John le Carré
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Apr 24, 2008

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Read in April, 2008

Ooh I feel so bonded with my dad when I read spy novels! These are an acquired taste for me so if you'd like a novice's opinion, read on. There was some really good stuff in this book, which was written in 1961 and I think John Le Carre's first spy thriller, so I'd guess it was written before the global audience became so immune to superhuman thriller stuff like driving your car upwards into a helicopter to blow it up and then walking away like a slightly dazed Wile E. Coyote. In other words, the human element hadn't yet been squeezed out by the adrenaline-loving masses.

That said, the actual details of the plot, the whodiddits and the whydidtheys was a bit muddled for me. Maybe I'm just not that good at following tangled plots of espionage novels, or maybe Le Carre hadn't yet found his voice for this. He was later to have called this one only "so-so". But I only know what I know, which was that at times my eyes had little question marks instead of pupils in them.

The final paragraph is great and gives the reader a chance to enjoy a private joke with Le Carre (over coffee and croissants, no doubt) as we see our intrepid hero George Smiley on a flight to meet (xxx no spoiler! xxx). The youngster sitting next to him looks over and thinks to himself -- "I know this type. One of those middle-aged guys trying to grab himself some little bit of adventure." Very nice payoff!

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Honor Yep... Not only his first spy novel but his first novel, period. :-)

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