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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

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 10-09-12

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.

21 of 23 people found this review helpful

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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.<br/><br/>Overall the book was well worth the time, and the narration was great!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Rena
  • Silver Spring, MD
  • 12-31-12

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.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Cindy
  • Torrance, Ca USA
  • 11-06-14

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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Smiley is the spies' spy.

The biographies of John le Carré and Ian Fleming can easily explain the difference between Smiley and Bond.

Fleming came from a wealthy family, his father was the Member of Parliament, and was educated at Eton, Sandhurst.

While le Carré did not know his mother, who abandoned him when he was five years old, and his father had been jailed for insurance fraud, was an associate of the natorious Kray twins, and was continually in debt. His schooling was at St Andrew's Preparatory School and Sherborne School.

Fleming worked in British Naval Intelligence during the Second World War and was involved in planning Operation Goldeneye and in the planning and oversight of two intelligence units.

Le Carré ran agents, conducted interrogations of people who crossed the Iron Curtain to the West, tapped telephone lines and effected break-in. He left the service after the betrayal of British agents' covers to the KGB by Kim Philby.

So while Bond is the fantasy of some who knew espionage from reports crossing his desk, Smiley is the result of a man that knew of the true immoral, grisly and unethical aspects of his profession.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Linda
  • Bowie, MD, United States
  • 09-04-17

First of George Smiley But Not Last

When I saw that a new book about George Smiley was to be published in a few days, I decided I'd better catch up and read the first in the series to find out who George Smiley was. I had heard of him from the books and movies, especially &quot;Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy&quot; but I had not read the books. I am so glad I started with Book #1 and found out about the short, slightly fat George Smiley. And became another smitten fan of John LeCarre'. The descriptions of the people and the character of each is so well written that you can feel like you can touch them. There are lots of good authors but LeCarre' set the measure for spy novels. I listened in audible and enjoyed the voice of the narrator Michael Jayston.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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boring

didn't get into it, just found it rather boring. it was also very short, probably wouldn't have finished it otherwise

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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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 3 people found this review helpful

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basically dull

simple detective work . spent too much time reviewing the facts. no unexpected twists. boring