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

From the What Were They Thinking? File

The news is all too rarely a laughing matter, but the following news update made me smile a couple of days ago:

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Mon, June 28, 2010 — 4:56 PM ET
—–

Federal Agents Arrest 10 on Charges of Spying for Russia

Ten people have been arrested for allegedly serving as secret
agents of the Russian government in the United States, the
Justice Department said Monday.
Eight of 10 were arrested
Sunday for allegedly carrying out long-term, deep cover
assignments in the United States on behalf of Russia. Two others
were arrested for allegedly participating in the
same Russian
intelligence program within the United States.
Read More

I was already chuckling silently to myself thinking… how relevant can spying be now that the cold war is over?? And then right on cue today, the following blurb had me laughing out loud:

Spying Suspects Seemed Short on Secrets
The suspected Russian spy ring rolled up by the F.B.I. this week had everything it needed for world-class espionage, except actual secrets to send to Moscow.

Something tells me Joe McCarthy must be rolling over in his grave.