Book Review: ‘Call for the Dead’ by John le Carré

A great Cold War espionage book.


After having read some of Le Carre’s more recent books, I decided to go back to the beginning and this is the first book that he wrote, and in which he introduced us to his leading character George Smiley. A nice, tight book that is well written and holds the attention it does a very good job of getting the reader into the initial Cold War espionage genre that Le Carre is a master of.

‘Call for the Dead’ by John le Carré

Love the writing style and the characters – oh so very British! – and the way he leads us through the maze of the Spy vs. Spy world that had really just begun to occur in actuality when this book was written back in 1961. I want to read more by this author because I love the style of writing, the plotting, and the mind games that Smiley is put through and takes us on. The next book featuring Smiley is quite different in that it has nothing to do with espionage and is the only one of Le Carre’s books in which he has Smiley interacting outside of that genre.

Why, oh why, did I take so long to join Le Carre’s group of avid followers? No idea, but that seems to be a sad refrain that I keep coming to in that the older I get the more books and authors I realize that I have never read. Trying desperately to remedy this situation and Le Carre’ is a thinking person’s author – no wild chases, no multiple and unnecessary deaths, just George Smiley trying his best to outthink and outwit all of his Cold War enemies. Understated and underwhelming, George Smiley is a great character and I look forward to following more of his missions!


Blaine is a retired attorney and professional wrestling promoter. He hosts Snapshots and Dinner and a... podcast.

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