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Smiley: Godfather of Morse?,
This review is from: A Murder of Quality (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...