Review: Call for the Dead by John le Carré

This week’s classic is John le Carré’s Call for the Dead – the book that introduced us to unlikely secret service agent George Smiley, the Circus, and a deadly spy game played out in the shadows of the Cold War.

In Call for the Dead, a civil servant is found a few days days after spy master George Smiley interviewed him as part of a routine security check. The police and the secret service are convinced it’s suicide, but Smiley has other ideas. Add in a the usual twists and turns (you can never quite trust anyone in a John le Carré novel can you?) and you’re off…

All in all, this is a pretty good spy thriller. What separates it from most other spy thrillers is Le Carré’s humour – he’s a much funnier writer than I remember. Take how he introduces Smiley:

“When Lady Ann Sercomb married George Smiley towards the end of the war she described him to her astonished Mayfair friends as breathtakingly ordinary.”

See? It’s like a grumpy old man wrote Pride and Prejudice, isn’t it?

If you’ve never read a John le Carré book, this is the place to start – Call for the Dead is a decent spy thriller that is funnier than it has any right to be.


So what do you think? Have you read it? Did you like it? Would you recommend it?

Let me know in the comments!

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