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Call for the Dead (George Smiley series Book 1) and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more
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Call for the Dead Paperback – 14 May 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre (14 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340993723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340993729
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.7 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 371,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John le Carré was born in 1931. His third novel, THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, secured him a wide reputation which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, THE HONOURABLE SCHOOLBOY and SMILEY'S PEOPLE. His other novels include THE CONSTANT GARDENER, A MOST WANTED MAN and OUR KIND OF TRAITOR.

Product Description

Review

'Brilliant. Realistic. Constant suspense . . . excellent writing' (Observer )

'Intelligent, thrilling, surprising . . . makes most cloak-and-dagger stuff taste of cardboard' (Sunday Telegraph) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'Brilliant. Realistic. Constant suspense ... excellent writing.' (The Observer)

'Intelligent, thrilling, surprising ... makes most cloak-and-dagger stuff taste of cardboard.' (The Sunday Telegraph)

'A subtle and acute story of counterespionage marked by restraint, indirection, and intelligence.' (The New York Times Book Review)

'Smiley is one of the most brilliantly realised characters in British fiction. Bespectacled, tubby, eternally middle-aged, and deceptively ordinary, he has a mind like a steel trap and is said to possess "the cunning of Satan and the conscience of a virgin".' (Audible.com) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 10 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
This is the book which started it all; the gripping series of intrigue, betrayal and an examination of human nature which has become the ultimate espionage collection.
This is the first of Le Carre's books and it contains the secret origin of George Smiley AND a rippingly good little espionage mystery. It introduces Mundt, too, who becomes rather more important in later novels. Le Carre set out to provide an antidote to Ian Fleming's James Bond, and Smiley truly is the thinking person's hero; a man who considers everything, fluffs sudden decisions, can be nakedly human when it comes to the woman he loves -- and chillingly calculating in achieving his other goals.
It's also a really taut thriller, not like modern gargantuan monsters of 900-odd pages. Back in 1960-something, Le Carre could cram an encyclopedia of insight into a single sentence. It's also fascinating to find that although written nearly half a century ago, 'Call For The Dead' is just as compelling as modern fiction can be. As a fan of 'period spy stories', the books of Alan Furst being high on that list, I'm delighted to discover that the originals are every bit as good.
Two hours of reading bliss.
9/10
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Dg Edwards on 23 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
As always, meticulous plotted with some strong observations in terms of character. I wrote this review in disgust at one of the reviewers on here who thought that it was too far fetched that a spy would join an amateur dramatic society to meet with a contact. They should stick to James Bond, which is far removed from the real world of esponiage. Le Carre's spy writing generally does not embellish on the technical wizardry of the CIA, instead relying on character and human nature to sell itself to the reader. It is far more realistic than other novels, showing that spying is more mundane than the stereotypical Hollywood or James Bond image. This is what makes Le Carre's work more humane, and that is true of Call for the Dead, which delves deeply into the pysche of the dead man and his wife. One of the most memorable bits of the book for me is the way that Smiley deals with someone in his house who has been sent to murder him; almost the anti-Bond you might say! Well worth the purchase price.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Wilz VINE VOICE on 24 Feb. 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Read the book, many times. Love Le Carre and therefore biased. The audiobook read, I think, by the Author is also great. However this production, although abridged, is a delight. Listen to the play on a long car journey or just relax at home and listen as if a radio play (which it is) and the magic of the BBC production and Le Carres writing shine through.
Well worth it, even if I am an unashamed fan!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Peter Fenelon on 26 Sept. 1999
Format: Paperback
The first of Le Carre's novels, this marks the fictional debut of George Smiley. This is a downbeat and perhaps slightly parochial tale played out in an early-sixties London really still recovering from World War 2. Smiley is at the nadir of his career; moved sideways into security clearing civil servants. Why does one of the men he interviews commit suicide? The investigation leads Smiley back through his own past as an agent and through the early Cold War.
A novel which has much to say about post-war Britain, about the frailty of human relationships in the Great Game of espionage, but its main interest is in the way it establishes the character of George Smiley.
A few inconsistencies with the later novels - in particular, Peter Guillam is presented as a near-contemporary of Smiley's, whereas he is later reinvented as a younger man.
On the whole, an excellent debut, setting the tone for the later novels.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By catsatcastle on 30 April 2011
Format: Paperback
I bought this on impulse a few years ago to give le Carre's spy stories another try, having only previously read The Honourable Schoolboy (HS) when it was first published. I could tell that HS was a well-written novel but can see now that it was not the place to start as there are so many resonances from Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy that I didn't understand and which I felt I need to know to understand what was going on. Call for the Dead made me realise what I was missing in not having read his novels and I have since gone on to read everything he has written (in order of publication) and incidentally come to appreciate The Honourable Schoolboy much more.

Call for the Dead is a short novel, more a detective story than a spy story, with a (relatively) less complex plot than le Carre's later novels. It brings us something of George Smiley's history, his love of things German, his notoriously wayward wife Ann whose presence or absence from his life is a theme running through the later novels, Peter Guillam and Inspector Mendel who will be so important in later stories. The characters are developing here but we do get the intelligent, thoughtful, decidedly unglamorous, somewhat detached Smiley who is often at odds with his superiors. A very good read.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Tom Hobbs on 16 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
Le Carre's first novel sees the introduction of George Smiley who would later become the pivotal hero of so many of the author's works. Here the introduction embellishes the reader with swathes of detail of Smiley's background, as he investigates the mysterious death of a Foreign Office worker, Samuel Fennan, whose passing is shrouded in mystery.

Arguably closer to a murder mystery than a spy story, Le Carre's initial foray into novel writing is a clear marker for his punchy style to come.

In the context of other works this acts as a bit of background, especially as his 3rd book, the superior The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (Penguin Modern Classics), often references "the Fennan Case". It also provides the first glimpse at Smiley and actually offers much more information on Smiley's heritage than is later provided in other works.

As a stand alone work though, the story is a little short and the plot is not overly developed but the signs of Le Carre are certainly there and the brevity is therefore unsurprising.
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