Friday, 13 January 2017

a murder of quality

On Monday 20th June 2016 I finished John le Carre's A Murder Of Quality, which was quite good.

It was his second novel, published in 1962. Like his first one, Call For The Dead, which I've also read, it's essentially a crime novel in which George Smiley is the detective. They are interesting to read because they're much less well-known than the Smiley spy novels that everyone knows. I wonder if le Carre would have become a 'detective writer' rather than a 'spy writer' if these two had been more successful. They're perfectly good, and a good deal shorter and less heavy than some of his later works.

First line: The greatness of Carne School has been ascribed by common consent to Edward VI, whose educational zeal is ascribed by history to the Duke of Somerset.
Last line: Only the half-lit street, and the shadows moving along it.
Dedication: To Ann

My copy was a Sceptre paperback (a Hodder imprint) from 2009. The cover photograph is credited to Steve Atkins Photography / Alamy, and 'Lettering by Ward Schumaker'. (Back cover blurb and credits preserved in this Bookcrossing page.) They put George Smiley's name on the cover, to draw the spy readers in; I wonder if they are disappointed. It's a nice cover, with the handwriting lettering (an allusion to the academic world of real ink pens, perhaps), the 'streak of paint' effect photo and the white space, and an understated Telegraph quote.