Call for the Dead by John le Carré

Published October 2, 2021

Call for the Dead by John le Carré

Book info

  • Title Call for the Dead
  • Author John le Carré
  • Year 1961
  • Genre Espionage

After a routine security check by George Smiley, civil servant Samuel Fennan apparently kills himself. When Smiley finds Circus head Maston is trying to blame him for the man's death, he begins his own investigation, meeting with Fennan's widow to find out what could have led him to such desperation. But on the very day that Smiley is ordered off the enquiry he receives an urgent letter from the dead man. Do the East Germans - and their agents - know more about this man's death than the Circus previously imagined? Le Carré's first book, Call for the Dead, introduced the tenacious and retiring George Smiley in a gripping tale of espionage and deceit.


I read that John Le Carré wrote the Smiley character as a direct response to Bond, making him chubby and kinda boring, and one that goes through the motions to get the job done, rather than getting the drinks and the girls and the rock and roll side of things. Despite that, it’s still a really good espionage thriller - a suicide that was actually a murder, several attacks on our hero, plus quite a lot of time spent at the theatre. I really quite liked it. Although I think I do like Bond better, I’ll be interested to read more of this Smiley chap.

Rating: 3 / 5

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