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Showing posts from January, 2009
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The Le Carré Marathon

Four books of Le Carré back-to-back bring in the new year for me. My education in the spy genre has been sadly lacking so far. This was meant to be my start.

A Murder of Quality was my first book. There is a spy in it; a famous one at that – George Smiley. But he plays a provincial detective more than a spy in it, much like Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot. In fact the book took me back to Agatha Christie mysteries, in the classic whodunit mould. Smiley is asked to go to a venerable British institution, a public school by the name of Carne, by an old friend as a favour. The friend edits a genteel Christian paper and she has just received a letter from an old reader, now a faculty wife at Carne. The letter writer Stella Rode warns of a threat to her life by her husband. And when Smiley reaches Carne, she is already dead. It takes Smiley, obviously a public-school type (the class distinctions are as alive as ever) a few days, some glasses of sherry, long conversations a…