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A Murder of Quality by John le Carre
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A Murder of Quality (original 1962; edition 2002)

by John le Carre

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1,165286,957 (3.45)54
Member:wdwilson3
Title:A Murder of Quality
Authors:John le Carre
Info:Scribner (2002), Paperback, 160 pages
Collections:Traded
Rating:****
Tags:mystery, 2013 read

Work details

A Murder of Quality by John le Carré (1962)

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Read during Summer 2002

Something a little different for George Smiley, not intellgence work and spies but a murder. Starts out a bit slow but quickly picks up speed and then got to the point where I could not put it down and I NEVER EVER guessed who did it. First rate stuff.
  amyem58 | Jul 14, 2014 |
The second book featuring George Smiley is like the first, more a crime novel than one of espionage. There are hints here of the depth of character that Smiley will reveal in later books, but what is most noticeable is the tone of deference and class differences that would be missing today, over 50 years after the book was published.
The police seem content to allow an outsider, Smiley, with no apparent qualifications and without question, to take a lead in the investigation of a murder. Class differences between the townspeople and the public school are emphasised and it is this difference that Smiley uses to his advantage to reveal the murderer.
  camharlow2 | Apr 1, 2014 |
Remarkable. A murder mystery, solved by a retired spy using espionage methods! ( )
  Netherto | Oct 17, 2013 |
I did not understand the title at all. An uneven and confusing small novel in which Smiley solves the murder of a tutor’s spouse at Carne school, a snobby sort of institution that he makes no secret of despising. In fact, that emotion overhangs the entire book, which is more of a cathartic outlet for le Carre whose public school days have deeply scarred his psyche, than it is an entertainment for the reader.

None of the characters other than Smiley and his female “sidekick,” Ailsa Brimley, are likable. Too often they’re stereotypical stand-ins for "real" characters, as in the case of Felix D’Arcy, the homosexual colleague of “poor little Rode,” the social lesser, grammar school-educated, public school wannabe "Carnie" whose wife, Stella, is the murder victim.

Despicable Stella, we learn, has a nasty hobby of terrorizing people at Carne with her knowledge of their embarrassing secret pasts. It is this nasty personality trait that gets her murdered.

Another Carne tutor is about to retire. Terrence Fielding happens to be the younger and diminished brother of one of Smiley’s WWII espionage cohorts who is much admired by Smiley. Adrian Fielding died in heroic service to his country.
It is hard to imagine the misogynistic, acidic, classist pederast that Fielding is could ever have been Adrian’s brother.

Sufficient red herrings, and an additional murder remind us how much we always enjoyed Agatha Christie as a youth. But lackluster action, overall dull and flat writing, and an inexcusable melodramatic ending make us grateful that George Smiley gave up police procedural attempts and eventually returned to espionage. And that goes for le Carré, too.

One particular line that foretells the quality that is to become consistent with his name is in reference to Smiley, “. . .once in the war he had been described by his superiors as possessing the cunning of Satan and the conscience of a virgin. . .” Great stuff! I'm glad this is not the first John le Carre Novel I ever read; I might not have read any more of his more mature and excellent espionage fiction. ( )
  Limelite | Sep 22, 2013 |
Smiley without espionage?! It's actually not too bad as mystery novels go - and there's some interesting light shed on Smiley the man here, things that color the later novels (or at least retrospectively) a bit more. But if you look at it as a Smiley diversion, it's only moderately entertaining - and I certainly wouldn't recommend it solely for the mystery aspect. So really, this one is for the completists I think...

More about it at RB: http://wp.me/pGVzJ-ss ( )
  drewsof | Jul 9, 2013 |
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The greatness of Carne School has been ascribed by common consent to Edward VI, whose educational zeal is ascribed by history to the Duke of Somerset.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743431685, Paperback)

John le Carré's classic novels deftly navigate readers through the intricate shadow worlds of international esionage with unsurpassed skill and knowledge, and have earned him -- and his hero, British secret Service Agent George Smiley -- unprecedented worldwide acclaim.

George Smiley was simply doing a favor for Miss Ailsa Brimley, and old friend and editor of a small newspaper. Miss Brimley had received a letter from a worried reader: "I'm not mad. And I know my husbad is trying to kill me." But the letter had arrived too late: it's scribe, the wife of an assistant master at the distinguished Carne School, was already dead.

So George Smiley went to Carne to listen, ask questions, and think. And to uncover, layer by layer, the complex network of skeletons and hatreds that comprised that little English institution.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:54:45 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A retired undercover agent, a charming but dangerous woman, and an aging intellectual are drawn together by murder among England's upper crust.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 12 descriptions

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2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141196378, 0241962188

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