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Smiley 02: A Murder of Quality (George…
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Smiley 02: A Murder of Quality (George Smiley) (original 1962; edition 2002)

by John Le Carré (Author)

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1,799466,649 (3.51)83
George Smiley was simply doing a favor for Miss Ailsa Brimley, an 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 husband is trying to kill me." But the letter had arrived too late: its 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.… (more)
Member:mysterysf
Title:Smiley 02: A Murder of Quality (George Smiley)
Authors:John Le Carré (Author)
Info:Scribner (2002), Edition: English Language, 160 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:crime fiction, mystery, bought, toread2

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A Murder of Quality by John le Carré (1962)

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Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
Smiley fans simply must read it for an early glimpse of their hero, in all his wretched glory, brilliantly solving a murder in the town from whence his Ann came. Regular mystery fans should also enjoy it, because it's a good story, but unless you're either a George Smiley person or someone who enjoys British class warfare (and who doesn't, in these days of JK Rowling?), it won't feel top-notch. ( )
  wearyhobo | Jun 22, 2020 |
3.5/5


This is an odd entry in the works of le Carre, chronicling the later life of George Smiley. Following the events of [b:Call for the Dead|46460|Call for the Dead (George Smiley, #1)|John le Carré|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1347597241s/46460.jpg|1176737] Smiley, no longer with the service, is living a quiet life in London. He is contacted by an old colleague about the a letter she has received from the wife of one of the masters at a venerable Public School (that is, a very old, expensive and exclusive private school) in Dorset, in which she states the fear that her husband is intending to kill her. Smiley calls another master there, the brother of one of his late friends, to find that this woman has indeed been murdered, so travels down to hand the letter over to local detectives and becomes embroiled in the investigation.



So, this is George Smiley as a free agent, outside the Circus. It seems that le Carre may have been toying with setting his character up as a detective - more Father Brown than Sherlock Holmes, although there is something Holmesian in the way the plot unfolds, with Smiley's vast, if ponderous, intellect processing all the details and building a picture nobody else can see. There is also something of Agatha Christie about the layers of upper-class English manners and class distinctions, in this book those stratifications are precisely the point rather than being, as with Christie, simply the medium on which the puzzle of the plot is hung.



It is clear from early on that this is a blistering attack on the British class system and the snobbish, restrictive forms, rules and structures that protect those at the top - something the author confirms in both the original afterword and a new one, added to this edition in 2010.



In this, le Carre also acknowledges the book's shortcomings as a thriller (although, by modern terms, I would not class it as a thriller at all, but a mystery) and this is indeed true, perhaps largely as it comes between his excellent debut and [b:The Spy Who Came In from the Cold|19494|The Spy Who Came In from the Cold|John le Carré|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1327719782s/19494.jpg|1177001], which may be the finest spy thriller ever written. The novel is very old-fashioned, some of the supporting cast are fairly flat sketches, and some of the attitudes - especially those toward women - are very much of their time (although that balanced against some very progressive notions) but he already shows his eye for detail and ability to infuse a scene with colour and meaning (even if most of colours are the shades of grey of post-war Britain) and, despite the flaws, this gripped me enough to read in three sittings.



Now, I am very much looking forward re-reading [b:The Spy Who Came In from the Cold|19494|The Spy Who Came In from the Cold|John le Carré|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1327719782s/19494.jpg|1177001]. ( )
  Pezski | Jun 21, 2020 |
With no experience whatsoever of reading le Carré, other than the first of his books, Call for the Dead, I had no idea what to expect here. Because I purposely decided to read the novels cold, without looking at summaries and having no knowledge of the film and TV works other than the names, I didn't even know whether A Murder of Quality was indeed another George Smiley novel. And the beginning of the novel doesn't clear the matter. The first chapter or so operates as a sort of prologue set at an English public school. There is even a whiff of humor about it all. Only with the shock of the murder do things become more suspenseful and, it must be said, a bit shabby.

I say shabby, because in these first two Smiley novels, there is a slight feel of grime and worn down posh settings. The atmosphere is all a bit gray. That extends to Smiley himself, whose clothes don't quite fit, whose small fat frame makes him an anonymous figure. It all fits with the times, the England and London of the early 1960s, where it's still smokestack Britain forever cast in rain and mist.

The story? Without going into it too much, I think it's a step up from the first novel, infinitely more complex and unpredictable. Something, however, is still amiss. The book makes for a quick read, because it is a short read. It has the feel of a novel until three quarters way through. I'm guessing that le Carré is still learning here, fleshing out his style and his storytelling skills. Still some ways to go with this book. ( )
  PaulCornelius | Apr 12, 2020 |
Life behind the cloisters of a British public school are revealed in John LeCarre’s second novel. Like his first novel, Call for The Dead, A Murder of Quality is a social comment on Britain in the decades after World War II.

Carne is the fictitious school, though based on those the upper class sent their sons. Stella Rode is the wife of one of Carne’s junior masters. She writes a letter to a minor newspaper, the Christian Voice, that she fears her husband will murder her. It’s not clear why she didn’t report her concern to the police. The newspaper’s editor doesn’t go the police either, thinking if that’s what Stella had wanted she would’ve gone herself.

The novel is a well-executed who-dun-it. It is not a spy novel for which LeCarre is the El Supremo. There’s the characterisation and brilliant writing of later novels but there isn’t the tension and suspense.

I’m new to LeCarre. The Spy Who Came in From The Cold got me hooked, so I read his first Call for the Dead. I recommend A Murder of Quality to LeCarre fans: an entertaining crime story laced with comment about Britain’s class-based society.
( )
  Neil_333 | Mar 6, 2020 |
I enjoy le Carré's spy novels but this is a good old-fashioned whodunnit. To my knowledge, this is the only mystery he wrote. The setting is a distinguished school where traditions, manners and class matter. George Smiley investigates on behalf of an old friend who received a letter from the wife of a teacher at the school claiming that her husband was trying to kill her. I wish le Carré had written more like this one. ( )
  VivienneR | Jan 27, 2020 |
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Taylor, MattCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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George Smiley was simply doing a favor for Miss Ailsa Brimley, an 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 husband is trying to kill me." But the letter had arrived too late: its 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.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141196378, 0241962188

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An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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