Call for the Dead
After a routine security check by George Smiley, civil servant Samuel Fennan apparently kills himself. When Smiley finds Circus head Maston is trying to blame him for the man's death, he begins his own investigation, meeting with Fennan's widow to find out what could have led him to such desperation. But on the very day that Smiley is ordered off the enquiry he receives an urgent letter from the dead man. Do the East Germans - and their agents - know more about this man's death than the Circus previously imagined?
Reviewed on 22nd January 2023
This is John le Carré’s first Smiley novel, published in the early 1960s, and setting up a series that would continue for 56 years yet only contain 9 novels.
Smiley is a burnt-out member of the Security Service, having served pre-war, during WW2, and post-war. He’s just doing routine things, when something goes wrong.
Amongst other things, it’s a fascinating glance back in time - at surface level to pre-decimal coinage, and deeper into plot-affecting elements like the lack of constant mobile communication.
But it’s also a great mystery story, and an interesting first look at a character who feels like he shouldn’t be compelling, but nonetheless is.