Sunday, March 5, 2017

Call for the Dead

George Smiley was always a spy, but his first appearance was in a traditional mystery novel.  Shortly after Smiley interviewed Samuel Fennan about a letter questioning Fennan's possible communist leanings, Fennan committed suicide.  Why, though, did the dead man request a wake-up call for the morning after his death?  Smiley, with the assistance of Peter Guillam and recently retired Police Inspector Mendel delves into Fennan's past and finds a connection to his own WWII spying.  Not quite convinced that Fennan was compromised, Smiley comes up with an alternate interpretation of the facts.  Which one is the truth?

Call for the Dead is a brief, tightly plotted mystery which outlines George Smiley's subdued, analytical character.  Different in tone from LeCarre's spy novels (and from the movie Tinker, Tailor, Solder, Spy which I re-watched last night), it's a good introduction to the author's elegant prose and most famous character.

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