Smiley: “Looks like a frog, dresses like a bookie, and has a brain I’d give my eyes for.”
LE CARRE, John A Murder of Quality. London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1962.
8vo., original red boards gilt to spine; pp. [vi], 7-189, [iii]; upper board with light crease towards foot; text block evenly toned, spine a little cocked, an attractive copy, nonetheless, of the author's very uncommon second book, the second to feature George Smiley.
First edition, first impression.
Published just one year after the success of his first novel, Call for the Dead, A Murder of Quality sees the return of George Smiley, here in the role of detective. It is the only work of Le Carre's thus set completely outside the espionage community, with a plot which has been compared in tone to the classic detective mystery of Agatha Christie or Dorothy L. Sayers. Le Carré himself later adapted the novel for Thames Television. It was shown on the ITV network in 1991, starring Denholm Elliott as George Smiley and Glenda Jackson as Ailsa Brimley.
In an introduction to the paperback edition issued almost thirty years later, le Carre wrote that “rereading the book now, I find a flawed thriller redeemed by ferocious and quite funny social comment.”