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A Murder of Quality Unknown Binding – 1962


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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 189 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (1962)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0007JCCW8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)

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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By "kendalian" on 14 Oct. 2002
Format: Paperback
... This is a murder mystery in the classic mould. It is also a sideways glance at class, via the ludicrous tradition and snobbery of an English public school.
We learn a little more about George Smiley [we never learn much, but every book sheds a little more light]and we see him in an unfamiliar setting.
The plot is well structured and, as ever, lucidly written. The whodunit element is present, but it isn't too hard to outguess George and get to the murderer quite swiftly.
I read this in one sitting-it is not a long book, but it is every bit as satisfying as the author's more sustained efforts.
Recommended.
Bill
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By fields21 on 19 Nov. 2003
Format: Paperback
An early day George Smiley is called to solev an murder mystery at one of the nations best public schools. Here you'll find many familiar elements which made Le Carre greater novels: a younger Smiley, an elitist environment and down to earth police inspectors. Smiley is not as much drawn out as in later novels, but is there allright. A Murder of Quality is one of Le Carre finer sketches, a prelude of much what was to come.
The books reads perfectly as a Murder Whodunnit, much like Agatha Christie, but with familair Le Carre characters. Between the lines, Le Carre takes a dig at some of teh snobbish and extraordinary characters of a public school.
I've read it at one go, didn't bore me at all. Recommended
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Susie B TOP 100 REVIEWER on 16 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback
John Le Carre's second novel: 'A Murder of Quality' was first published in 1962 and features George Smiley after he has retired from MI6. I should start this review by saying that this novel is in no way like le Carre's excellent espionage novels, so if you are expecting something in the vein of `The Spy who Came in from the Cold' or `Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy' then you may be disappointed. That is not to say that this isn't a good novel - it is - but it is more of a `whodunnit' murder mystery, rather like an Agatha Christie or Josephine Tey, and if you approach the book with this in mind, it makes for an entertaining and enjoyable read.

Stella Rode, wife of a master at Carne School, an ancient place of education with its cloisters and its mention in the Doomsday Book, is not quite the right sort; she is from the North, is Chapel instead of Church of England, uses lace doilies and has china ducks on her wall. Even the boys at the school secretly ridicule her realizing she is not `quite the ticket'. Mr. Rode, ex-grammar school boy, who has carefully watched his `betters', tries hard to emulate them, but Stella Rode refuses to be other than what she is, and is often an embarrassment to her socially aspirant husband. Stella is generally considered to be a very down-to-earth person - however, when she confides to her Minister at the chapel that she thinks her husband is planning to murder her, he thinks she is delusionary. But then, one bitterly cold, snowy night Stella Rode is bludgeoned to death in her own home.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Axnettle on 26 April 2009
Format: Paperback
Le Carre's second novel sees his most famous character, George Smiley, co-opted to solve a murder in an upper class public school. As earlier reviewers note, this is more Agatha Christie than Tinker Tailor, but none the worse for that. These days, Inspector Morse would turn up, but this is still the early sixties. It's an inwardly obsessive world of snobbery, backbiting, social graces and disgraces. A world of passing the port, latin prayers and cello lessons.

Into this microcosm arrives Smiley, his character still developing, his emotional baggage already weighing on him. He sleuths his way through a succession of odious masters, wives and hangers-on, having all the while to conceal his disastrous earlier marriage into the local aristocracy. Although this is a short book, easily digestible in an evening, Le Carre has conjured deliciously vile characters, an entertaining (and totally unguessable) crime, laced with a flavour of the style that was to develop subsequently into the genius of his more "mainstream" espionage novels.

If you love Le Carre and George Smiley, this will give you an evening of pure lighthearted pleasure. You can read it in the time it takes to watch an Inspector Morse...
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 18 May 2006
Format: Paperback
I think this is one of the first Le Carre novels, and Smiley appears in it for some reason or another, even if it is not a spy novel.

Murder has happened at a private school. A boy has been killed.

Based on this premise, Smiley has to become acquainted with the small inner life of this school, its apparent grandeur and fashionable respectability, and its mean everyday life which hides behind the surface. Investigation is a way to expose the inanity of British society in the 50s before the great crisis of the 60s.

Very well written as all Le Carre works, this is your novel if you like Agatha Christie, if you prefer murder in the parish yard instead of the gutter crime of the black series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alfred J. Kwak on 28 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
This slim book is John Le Carré's second novel, written while working as a British diplomat in Bonn and Bern or elsewhere in a roving capacity, and again it stars George Smiley(GS). He was Le Carré's hero in his debut Call for the Dead, which described him as being an accomplished and committed spy since 1928, who survived a frightful and nasty war in Germany, and who is still (early 1960's) wearing glasses, short, pudgy, and badly, but expensively dressed. He is also separated from his aristocratic wife Ann, and some characters in this book let him know that they know.
This book is not about espionage, but about a murder at Carne, a centuries' old public school. Miss Brimley, a WW-II colleague of GS in wartime intelligence, who has become editor of a religion-based weekly, contacts GS when she receives a letter from the wife of a teacher at Carne's. The wife's family has for generations subscribed to the weekly. She claims her husband is planning to kill her... When she is found dead days later, Miss Brimley contacts GS and pleads with him to find out the truth. GS, in retirement following the dramatic outcome of his first appearance in Le Carré's debut novel, agrees and travels to Carne to investigate.
Le Carré's subsequent description of the rift between the school and the rest of Carne village, the feuds, prejudices and resentments between and among new and old staff (many are alumni not employable elsewhere) are cruelly revealing of the class-based rifts in English society at the time. Le Carré manages at times in this dark book situated during a cold winter, to convey an atmosphere of awfulness about the English/British mindset not far removed from what the late film director Sam Peckinpah tried to depict in his movie Straw Dogs, a film that has for many years been banned in Britain.
Great reading. Highly recommended.
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