Books »Call for the Dead

I picked up a couple John le Carre books in my last “book drive” because we enjoyed the extraordinary miniseries based on his books: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and Smiley's People. Otherwise I would never have bothered.

To me, le Carre always appeared to be one of those authors exclusively for older men with boring collections, who writes an entire wall full of series that mostly feature the sight of a gun or binoculars on the cover.

I finally got around to reading Call for Dead, his first novel, then, not with glee and anticipation, but curiosity and for the fact that it was small enough to do my aching shoulder no harm in my handbag.

It's been one of the most unexpected pleasures. Surprisingly, the words “delicate” and “refined” pop in my head to describe the prose.

The plot, which is as exciting and intelligent as other ones starring the astute and classy George Smiley, is also slightly less complicated than many. There are figures from the past, a staged suicide, and no one is ever what they seem; but I will leave the details for you to discover when you read it.

What is so important to convey about le Carre is they balance of his writing. It's complex, about the thorny, double crossing world of spying, but manages to be intriguing and entertainingly readable.

I promise, this is not just for old men who watch TV shows about weapons on Discovery.

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Posted on November 26, 2007

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