“Call for the Dead,” by John Le Carré

Novel, 1961

The first George Smiley novel, setting the scene with some wonderful character building, domestic-based espionage and a generally downbeat atmosphere which feels both plausible and eerie. The familiarity with setting and the low key action both draw the reader in, and the lack of glamour – made explicit in the opening description of Smiley’s failed marriage – contrast with other tropes and examples of the genre. Maybe the ending felt a little disappointing in exploring and wrapping up all the loose and loose-ish ends, but the good work’s already been done. A satisfying read and an initial immersion into a suburban world of curtain twitching and occasionally violent actions.

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