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My Name is Michael Sibley by John Bingham

My Name is Michael Sibley (1952)

by John Bingham

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I read the 2000 reissue of this novel, which has a foreword by John Le Carre. Here I discovered Bingham was the original of Le Carre's George Smiley, something I had not known before and which raised Bingham in my esteem. Many years ago I read several of Bingham's books, including this one (as well as his excellent account of the Scottish serial killer Peter Manuel); at the time I was expecting them to be cracking mysteries, as it were, and was too young and stupid to realize that Bingham was offering something very much better.

Mild-mannered, undistinguished journalist Michael Sibley is shocked when his old schooldays companion John Prosset is bumped off, because it was something Sibley has always fantasized about doing himself (although the world knows them as the best of friends, Sibley has always loathed his overweening, arrogant acquaintance) -- and in recent weeks, with Prosset seemingly moving in on Sibley's fiancee, the fantasies have been becoming ever more alluring.

Almost immediately Sibley realizes he's in many ways the ideal suspect for the police, and so he starts "improving" on events a bit -- telling little white lies here and there, encouraging fiancee Kate to do likewise, and so on. The net result is, of course, that every last falsehood and disingenuity comes back to bite him, and he looks guilty as sin. Is it possible that he is guilty as sin, but lying to the reader? Or is he, as he claims to be, an innocent man destined for the hangman's noose?

There's nothing flamboyant about the way Bingham tells this tale -- he was a very plain, restrained, quiet writer -- and yet Sibley's account of his misadventures succeeded in completely mesmerizing me. With luck some of his other novels are still in print . . . ( )
1 vote JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
Excellent book. Literate, well-developed characters, interesting theme. The plot is well developed and moves at a good, but not overly fast pace, allowing the story to develop with a good, easy, natural flow. The characters are not stock who-done-it, but ordinary people; not brilliant gorgeous and falling for the person they rejected on page three, but the common person in an uncommon situation. Great read. ( )
  Salixj | Jul 12, 2009 |
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John Binghamprimary authorall editionscalculated
Carré, John LeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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