I Spy a Murder Or Two

Call for the Dead by John Le Carré ★★★½
This is the first novel in the George Smiley series, which introduces the MI6 intelligence officer. Middle-aged, self-effacing, bespectacled, short and fat, a bad dresser and sometimes described as frog-like, Smiley presents a more realistic character and the opposite to the fantasy that is James Bond. The first chapter gives us Smiley’s professional background and how he came to be involved with intelligence work, but also presents his current personal situation. Smiley is recovering from heartbreak following his separation from his wife Lady Ann Sercombe, a beautiful and promiscuous aristocrat who has left him for a Cuban racecar driver. The presentations over, Smiler is called in by his superior, Maston, who informs him that a Foreign Office civil servant named Samuel Fennan has just committed suicide following a routine security check performed by Smiley and that he, Smiley is accused of inducing the man to kill himself. It appears that Fennan claimed in his suicide note that he felt his reputation was marred and his career at an end. Smiley is distraught, especially since he remembers the interview, which followed an anonymous accusation, being a particularly pleasant one, and that he had all but guaranteed to Fennan that he was in the clear. Continue reading