Jim Leckband's Reviews > A Murder of Quality

A Murder of Quality by John le Carré
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's review
Jan 17, 2012

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Read from January 17 to 18, 2012

Le Carre's Smiley is dropped into a world where double-crossing and deceit are a way of life, where nothing is quite what it seems, where a kind word on the surface means a dagger under the belt, where your best friend is your worst enemy. A place where conformity to a social superiority either means an unsettled detente or banishment.

Totalitarian Russia? A forgotten Iron Curtain country? Mao's China or Vietnam?

Nope. English public school.

"A Murder of Quality" has no spies in it. Smiley is called by an old friend to look on a murder at the upper-crustiest public school in England - in fact the Prince is going there. Since the school seems it is not connected to the town it is in, the police can't get an edge into the insularity. But Smiley has connections and like Columbo he starts asking "innocent" questions to get people off their guard and reveal their secrets that they think they are hiding.

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