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Call for the Dead: A George Smiley Novel | [John le Carré]

Call for the Dead: A George Smiley Novel

George Smiley is no one's idea of a spy - which is perhaps why he's such a natural. But Smiley apparently made a mistake. After a routine security interview, he concluded that the affable Samuel Fennan had nothing to hide. Why, then, did the man from the Foreign Office shoot himself in the head only hours later? Or did he? The heart-stopping tale of intrigue that launched both novelist and spy, Call for the Dead is an essential introduction to le Carre's chillingly amoral universe.
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Publisher's Summary

George Smiley is no one's idea of a spy - which is perhaps why he's such a natural. But Smiley apparently made a mistake. After a routine security interview, he concluded that the affable Samuel Fennan had nothing to hide. Why, then, did the man from the Foreign Office shoot himself in the head only hours later? Or did he?

The heart-stopping tale of intrigue that launched both novelist and spy, Call for the Dead is an essential introduction to le Carre's chillingly amoral universe.

©2012 John le Carre (P)2012 Penguin Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (245 )
5 star
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4.2 (215 )
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4.4 (214 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 10-09-12
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 10-09-12

    A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    8182
    ratings
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    Story
    "Subtle story of friendship, espionage, guilt, etc"

    John le Carré's first novel is a subtle story of friendship, espionage, guilt and tradecraft. le Carré is one of those great genre writers who I think will be read 200 years from now. This short first novel foreshadows many of the themes and moral ambiguities of later le Carré espionage novels.

    18 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rena Steinzor Silver Spring, MD 12-31-12
    Rena Steinzor Silver Spring, MD 12-31-12 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
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    2
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    Story
    "LeCarre Fans Take Note"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Call for the Dead to be better than the print version?

    This obscure little book is the first in the Smiley series, introducing our unlikely hero, along with Mendel and Guillam. For fans everywhere, this is a must-read. Michael Jayston, who played Guillam in the original BBC versions of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley's People does A wonderful job as narrator. Not to be missed--I am reading all my favorites all over again.


    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caroline Salt Lake, UT, United States 08-06-13
    Caroline Salt Lake, UT, United States 08-06-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    11
    3
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    "Great Entry to le Carré"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    My first exposure to le Carré was the recent Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy film. I was so intrigued by the characters, especially George Smiley that I decided to read all of the George Smiley books. The physical description of Smiley, in Call for the Dead, does not bring Gary Oldman to mind, but the persona is dead on. The plot and character development are far less complex than in TTSS, but it was an enjoyable read none the less. It will be interesting to see how le Carré grows as an author throughout the books.

    Overall the book was well worth the time, and the narration was great!


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darryl Cedar Rapids, IA, United States 03-26-13
    Darryl Cedar Rapids, IA, United States 03-26-13 Member Since 2005
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    "nice opening to series"

    i have read a couple of le carre's novels and liked them, (Constant Gardiner & From the Cold being excellent) and thought i'd start Smiley series and see how far i wanted to go, at least to Tinker, Tailor & then watch the film. I like the mystery aspect of this one, but I really like how convoluted the spy motive aspect of these get. I may like Le Carre more than i thought, maybe I waited too long to keep up with him. Narrator is good and I think the writing style is in general better from european authors.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M 02-01-13
    M 02-01-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    3
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    "Good story"

    The story was interesting and the narator was very good. I like the fact that he did not overdo the change in his voice for different characters.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy WESTON, MO, United States 01-30-13
    Nancy WESTON, MO, United States 01-30-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    "John leCarre is just a darn good writer"

    Intriguing plot, very well written. I'm not crazy about spy novels in general, but leCarre is always good.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Helen 01-22-13
    Helen 01-22-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "Smiley is the best spy every created."
    Would you listen to Call for the Dead again? Why?

    Absolutely. I loved the story and do intend to read it again.


    What does Michael Jayston bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I am an avid reader, but this narrator had me as much in the story as if I was reading a physical book. Very well done. Bravo


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cindy Torrance, Ca USA 11-06-14
    Cindy Torrance, Ca USA 11-06-14 Member Since 2013

    I'm a high school English teacher, partner, mom, daughter, sister, and adventurer.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
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    "Difficult to follow"
    What would have made Call for the Dead better?

    If le Carre had developed and distinguished his characters more clearly.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Sarah Water's The Paying Guests.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Smiley's first interview with the widow.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    I was disappointed that w book deemed as a 'classic' was so mundane and boring.


    Any additional comments?

    I wish I had chosen a more recent le Carre book to introduce me to this author.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug 07-30-14
    Doug 07-30-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    4
    4
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    Story
    "Disjointed"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Probably not. George Smiley just doesn't do it for me.


    What does Michael Jayston bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The narration was good. I would listen to him again.


    Do you think Call for the Dead needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    I thought this was about spying but it was more of a murder mystery. The main character, Smiley, didn't seem like a main character. Mendel was a much more intriguing character.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JEFFREY COMMERCE CITY, COLORADO, United States 03-08-14
    JEFFREY COMMERCE CITY, COLORADO, United States 03-08-14 Member Since 2014
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    16
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    "Short but Impressive"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. The story had a good flow. I couldn't stop listening to the book. The intensity and exceitment kept building until the end.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    When I first heard mention of this book, a British spy novel, my mind instantly conjured images of James Bond. I went into the book expecting a daring and suave hero. This expectation lead me to a bit of disappointment when I first met Smiley. But, as the book moved forward, I found myself becoming very fond of Smiley. A very clever hero in his own right. A hero that is not really a hero at all and is just as fallible as any of us. A very human character that has triumphed and failed, loved and lost, right and wrong. A character that can be related to by the reader.


    What does Michael Jayston bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I enjoyed the narrators smooth delivery. He was very enjoyable to listen to. I was often immersed in the story as if I was watching a movie completely unaware of the narrators voice. He didn't overdo any of the characters voices, but sometimes this lead to confusion as to who was speaking in parts of the book containing rapid dialog from multiple characters.


    Any additional comments?

    This was a great introduction to the series. The author has a knack for getting you to feel what the character is feeling with out a cumbersome amount of text. I enjoyed it until the very end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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