Saturday, May 9, 2009

Guest Blog – A Murder of Quality by John le Carré

When I was a teenager, I saw The Spy Who Came in From the Cold with Richard Burton. I have not seen it since but I still remember Burton’s performance and the chilling ending. The book itself established le Carré as an author. Since then I have seen George Smiley played by Sir Alec Guinness on Masterpiece Theatre. He is quiet and unobtrusive with a very sharp mind. But I have never read any of le Carré’s books until now.

With small tight type, A Murder of Quality is only 150 pages long. When I picked the book up, I hoped that it would be a satisfying read. It didn’t disappoint me. It had a few conversations between its characters that left me feeling as if I was an uneducated participant on the sidelines. However, I am used to that from reading authors such as Dorothy Sayers. British authors of a certain period seem to have this desire to show off their education by quoting Latin or spouting intellectual piffle. 'Piffle,' by the way, is a good Lord Peter Wimsey word if I remember correctly.

I found the book interesting largely because the victim of the book is describe by various acquaintances in very different terms. Some say she was gauche, some say she was kind and went out of her way to help others. It isn’t until the end of the book that the reader discovers what Stella was really like. The discovery changes one’s perspective completely.

I don’t think that John le Carré is reading for everyone. Younger readers might find him stuffy and dismiss him. However, this is only his second novel. I am interested in reading something more recent. In the meantime, I thoroughly enjoyed A Murder of Quality. It was certainly a very nice and sophisticated break from reading Lee Child.

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