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Publisher's Summary

John le Carré's second novel, A Murder of Quality, offers an exquisite, satirical look at an elite private school as it chronicles the early development of George Smiley.

Miss Ailsa Brimley is in a quandary. She's received a peculiar letter from Mrs. Stella Rode, saying that she fears her husband - an assistant master at Carne School - is trying to kill her. Reluctant to go to the police, Miss Brimley calls upon her old wartime colleague, George Smiley. Unfortunately, it's too late. Mrs. Rode has just been murdered. As Smiley takes up the investigation, he realizes that in life - as in espionage—nothing is quite what it appears.

©2012 John le Carre (P)2012 Penguin Audio

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 10-12-12

Short break from le Carre's brilliant spy œuvre

Not le Carré's finest, but that is like saying here a minor Faulkner, a good-effort Chandler or even a throwaway Conrad. 'A Murder of Quality' finds George Smiley out of his element (although to be fair, Smily IS defined by always being just a little out of his element). Instead of in an espionage thriller, he is dropped by le Carré into a boys school murder.

It is as if, with his second novel, le Carré is wondering whether spy fiction or detective fiction should be his future calling. It does make me briefly pause and imagine how the arc of his career might have turned out if le Carré had pursued crime instead of espionage writing.

If you are new to le Carré, don't start with this one. If you love le Carré this will be a short and interesting break from his brilliant espionage œuvre.

21 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Bettendorf, IA, United States
  • 12-04-16

Even better in audio format

My mother-in-law gave me my first George Smiley/ John LeCarre novel, & he's become one of my favorite authors of all Tim, if not my very favorite. Character developments & story-telling genius are large factors, but it's his lyrical turn of phrase and near-poetic prose that won me over & keep me coming back.

I'd read the bulk of the more spycentric Smiley bibliography before learning of his first two books, "Call for the Dead" & "A Murder of Quality", & so I think I was a little let down on my first reading of " A Murder......", expecting more Cold War intrigue.

Over the last ten years, I've switched to almost exclusively audio book "reading", & consequently listen to three times as many books annually, maybe four. It's so much more convenient, and one can listen to an audiobook during chores, driving, etc. But the other big factor is that a narrator can make or break a book. Thankfully, all of the Smiley works are read by the inestimable Michael Jayston. He's an incredible talent, & also so very very British, which is a must with this series.

Anyway, my point is this: I don't know if it's my approaching this particular book ten years after my first reading (when I'd found it to be my lest favorite of all LeCarre's novels), or life experience, but this time around I found A Murder of Quality to be far more favorable & in depth. And Michael Jayston's impeccable narration of course adds to the experience immensely. I'm happy to have revisited this novel & would highly recommend it.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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very good murder mystery

Smiley is still "retired" apparently from secret service after Call for the Dead but this is a very good murder mystery that stands on it's own. Le Carre is a fine author thus far and I know #3 In from the Cold is genius and one of my favorite novels and so I am on my way to #4 in this series and plan to go on with more Smileys and more JLC in general.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Well-crafted Murder Mystery with Quirky Humor

If you could sum up A Murder of Quality in three words, what would they be?

Lean. Logical. Engrossing.

What did you like best about this story?

The down-to-earth humaness of all the characters coupled with the well-polished and logical plot.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Valerie
  • HEATH, OH, United States
  • 01-07-13

Good

I prefer the espionage stories, although this is nice for a change.

Anything by Le Carre will work for me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very fresh

I had not ever read this story and it was a pleasure to hear it. The reading was excellent and the story above average (compared to most, but below average for John Le Carré - it was only his second George Smiley story, though, so I'll cut him some slack). :)

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  • Linda
  • Bowie, MD, United States
  • 09-09-17

Smiley Is Superb--Big Brain Solves Crimes

This second book about George Smiley is terrific. I didn't know for sure who the murderer was until the last chapter. That is the sign of a very good author and John le Carre' is that. I am just sorry it took me this long to get around to these books. The good news is that there are 7 more to go. It is amazing how good these are and without cell phones or other modern technology. He and his colleagues must rely on the mail and public phones. How old school. This book is about a posh school in England with the class system only the British can understand. The author brings it all home with the snobbishness of the characters and the pretense of the murdered woman. The setting of the boys' school with all the religious stuff just make it even more plausible that the instructors and student body are not of this world. I am just sorry that the author is 85 years old. He is terrific. I listened to it in audible and the narrator, Michael Jayston, is superb. He narrates all but the 2017 book.

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Dinner Conversations Transcribed

I really enjoyed le Carre's first book and wanted to listen to the Smiley novels in order. This was boring and I had to push myself to get more than halfway through before giving up. I understand his other Smiley stories are better so I will give them a chance.

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  • s.m. mock
  • oklahoma, ok United States
  • 03-03-17

loved it

this is chock full of george smiley and le carre's cunning character studies. if you are a smiley fan, you'll want this in your library.

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A wonderful Who-Done-It.

George Smiley is a delicious character which captures my attention. It sort of feels a little like Columbo, but the books take me into the past as well. I enjoyed this story which proves that anyone can lie...and they often do.