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Un delitto di classe de John Le Carré
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Un delitto di classe (1962)

de John Le Carré

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1,850486,607 (3.52)90
George Smiley was simply doing a favor for Miss Ailsa Brimley, an old friend and editor of a small newspaper. Miss Brimley had received a letter from a worried reader: "I'm not mad. And I know my husband is trying to kill me." But the letter had arrived too late: its scribe, the wife of an assistant master at the distinguished Carne School, was already dead. So George Smiley went to Carne to listen, ask questions, and think. And to uncover, layer by layer, the complex network of skeletons and hatreds that comprised that little English institution.… (mais)
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A Murder of Quality de John le Carré (1962)

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Smiley on the Case
Review of the Penguin Crime paperback edition (1970) of the Gollancz hardcover original (1962)

The recent passing of novelist John le Carré (penname of David Cornwell) (October 19, 1931 – December 12, 2020) brought back memories of my reading his Cold War novels in the 1970s. Those were probably the first books of somewhat 'serious' writing that I had ever read, after developing a early love of reading with detective and science fiction novels in my teenage years. I saved all of those paperbacks as well, so it seemed like a good time for some retrospective re-reads.

A Murder of Quality was Carré's 2nd novel and, as with his 1st, Call for the Dead, featured his regular George Smiley character who is periodically called out of retirement to investigate criminal or espionage cases. Smiley is a self-effacing character who is far removed from the usual glamorous world of fictional spies, as he:Looks like a frog, dresses like a bookie, and has a brain I’d give my eyes for. Had a very nasty war. Very nasty indeed.
The espionage tie-in for A Murder of Quality is indirect, as Smiley is asked to assist by a colleague from his WWII undercover years. Ailsa Brimley has received a disturbing note from a subscriber c/o her advice column at a newspaper she writes and edits. As he investigates, Smiley uncovers a world of deception, blackmail and murder behind the scenes at a staid Public School.
Miss Brimley, watching him, wished she knew a little more about George Smiley, how much of the diffidence was assumed, how vulnerable he was.
'The best,' Adrian had said. 'The strongest and the best.'
But so many men learnt strength during the war, learnt terrible things, and put aside their knowledge with a shudder when it ended.

Carré's first two novels were more murder investigations than espionage plots, but they serve as excellent introductions to the George Smiley character.

Trivia and Links
A Murder of Quality was filmed as a television movie in 1991, directed by Gavin Millar with a screenplay written by John le Carré. Denholm Elliott played the George Smiley role. The cast of mostly veteran actors included a young Christian Bale in the role of Perkins. ( )
  alanteder | Dec 27, 2020 |

'A Murder Of Quality' is a book fuelled by hatred and compassion. Hatred for minor public schools in post-war England and compassion for the people who staffed and attended them.

Le Carré vivisects the vanity, cruelty, mediocrity and relentless conformity of an English boarding school with an insight that only someone who has suffered through such a place can bring. He shows that the school is more concerned with instilling loyalty to one's class and a belief in one's superiority and entitlement than it is with either educating or caring for the boys who attend it. He captures the claustrophobia and myopia of living in an enclosed institution that turns staff and boys into inmates bound together by their shared incarceration.

Le Carré's compassion for the masters and the boys is what prevents this book from becoming a polemic. Le Carré shows Masters who understand the hollowness of the life they lead, who know that the war left their school short on teaching talent and out of step with the mood of the times, and who, knowing this cling to the status afforded them by tradition and class. The boys he shows as abandoned by their parents, brutalised by their school, burdened with expectation and starving for any form of kindness.

'At its heart 'A Murder Of Quality' is a good murder mystery., with a complex plot, an intriguing setting and a memorable main character.

George Smiley, a quiet, unobtrusive man with no positional authority, makes the perfect amateur sleuth to investigate a death at the school. He comes from the same class and educational background as the Masters but does not share their world view. He has connections to the local gentry but has no affection for them. He is armed with personal introductions to the local police and has access to the players that they can never achieve. Smiley sees the world clearly. So clearly that he has no expectations of anyone other than that they will behave like the flawed people that we all are.

Smiley is capable of both insight and empathy but he remains emotionally distant. He pursues the truth with a quiet, calm relentlessness. He doesn't get caught up in the joy of the chase. He's not playing a game. Rather, he's resigned to uncovering the veniality and weakness and anger and shame that leads someone to murder and the unpleasant necessity of holding them to account.

The puzzle Smiley has to solve is not straight forward and its resolution contained a number of surprises which made me reassess everything I thought I knew but didn't leave me feeling cheated.

The novel is only 177 pages long yet it is filled with clearly drawn believable, memorable characters whose presence transforms what could have been a puzzle-solving exercise into a set of personal tragedies.

Published in 1961, 'A Murder Of Quality' was Le Carré's second novel. His third novel, 'The Spy Who Came In From The Cold', another George Smiley book, established Le Carré as a leading writer of spy fiction. It seems to me that, based on reading this novel, that if spy fiction hadn't worked out for him, he could have gone on to become a master of crime fiction.
( )
  MikeFinnFiction | Oct 20, 2020 |
Smiley fans simply must read it for an early glimpse of their hero, in all his wretched glory, brilliantly solving a murder in the town from whence his Ann came. Regular mystery fans should also enjoy it, because it's a good story, but unless you're either a George Smiley person or someone who enjoys British class warfare (and who doesn't, in these days of JK Rowling?), it won't feel top-notch. ( )
  wearyhobo | Jun 22, 2020 |
3.5/5


This is an odd entry in the works of le Carre, chronicling the later life of George Smiley. Following the events of [b:Call for the Dead|46460|Call for the Dead (George Smiley, #1)|John le Carré|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1347597241s/46460.jpg|1176737] Smiley, no longer with the service, is living a quiet life in London. He is contacted by an old colleague about the a letter she has received from the wife of one of the masters at a venerable Public School (that is, a very old, expensive and exclusive private school) in Dorset, in which she states the fear that her husband is intending to kill her. Smiley calls another master there, the brother of one of his late friends, to find that this woman has indeed been murdered, so travels down to hand the letter over to local detectives and becomes embroiled in the investigation.



So, this is George Smiley as a free agent, outside the Circus. It seems that le Carre may have been toying with setting his character up as a detective - more Father Brown than Sherlock Holmes, although there is something Holmesian in the way the plot unfolds, with Smiley's vast, if ponderous, intellect processing all the details and building a picture nobody else can see. There is also something of Agatha Christie about the layers of upper-class English manners and class distinctions, in this book those stratifications are precisely the point rather than being, as with Christie, simply the medium on which the puzzle of the plot is hung.



It is clear from early on that this is a blistering attack on the British class system and the snobbish, restrictive forms, rules and structures that protect those at the top - something the author confirms in both the original afterword and a new one, added to this edition in 2010.



In this, le Carre also acknowledges the book's shortcomings as a thriller (although, by modern terms, I would not class it as a thriller at all, but a mystery) and this is indeed true, perhaps largely as it comes between his excellent debut and [b:The Spy Who Came In from the Cold|19494|The Spy Who Came In from the Cold|John le Carré|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1327719782s/19494.jpg|1177001], which may be the finest spy thriller ever written. The novel is very old-fashioned, some of the supporting cast are fairly flat sketches, and some of the attitudes - especially those toward women - are very much of their time (although that balanced against some very progressive notions) but he already shows his eye for detail and ability to infuse a scene with colour and meaning (even if most of colours are the shades of grey of post-war Britain) and, despite the flaws, this gripped me enough to read in three sittings.



Now, I am very much looking forward re-reading [b:The Spy Who Came In from the Cold|19494|The Spy Who Came In from the Cold|John le Carré|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1327719782s/19494.jpg|1177001]. ( )
  Pezski | Jun 21, 2020 |
With no experience whatsoever of reading le Carré, other than the first of his books, Call for the Dead, I had no idea what to expect here. Because I purposely decided to read the novels cold, without looking at summaries and having no knowledge of the film and TV works other than the names, I didn't even know whether A Murder of Quality was indeed another George Smiley novel. And the beginning of the novel doesn't clear the matter. The first chapter or so operates as a sort of prologue set at an English public school. There is even a whiff of humor about it all. Only with the shock of the murder do things become more suspenseful and, it must be said, a bit shabby.

I say shabby, because in these first two Smiley novels, there is a slight feel of grime and worn down posh settings. The atmosphere is all a bit gray. That extends to Smiley himself, whose clothes don't quite fit, whose small fat frame makes him an anonymous figure. It all fits with the times, the England and London of the early 1960s, where it's still smokestack Britain forever cast in rain and mist.

The story? Without going into it too much, I think it's a step up from the first novel, infinitely more complex and unpredictable. Something, however, is still amiss. The book makes for a quick read, because it is a short read. It has the feel of a novel until three quarters way through. I'm guessing that le Carré is still learning here, fleshing out his style and his storytelling skills. Still some ways to go with this book. ( )
  PaulCornelius | Apr 12, 2020 |
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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.
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George Smiley was simply doing a favor for Miss Ailsa Brimley, an old friend and editor of a small newspaper. Miss Brimley had received a letter from a worried reader: "I'm not mad. And I know my husband is trying to kill me." But the letter had arrived too late: its scribe, the wife of an assistant master at the distinguished Carne School, was already dead. So George Smiley went to Carne to listen, ask questions, and think. And to uncover, layer by layer, the complex network of skeletons and hatreds that comprised that little English institution.

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Penguin Australia

2 edições deste livro foram publicadas por Penguin Australia.

Edições: 0141196378, 0241962188

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