A Murder of Quality
John le Carré
Genre(s) | Mystery, Thriller
Goodreads Rating | 3.60
Humpo Show Rating | 2.75
Published: 2011, originally published in 1962
The editor of a small Christian magazine, Miss Ailsa Brimley, receives a letter from a worried reader: “I’m not mad. And I know my husband is trying to kill me.” Unfortunately, the writer of the letter, the wife of an assistant master at a distinguished public school, did not get the help she needed in time.
A Murder of Quality starts off when Miss Brimley informs wartime colleague and retired spy George Smiley to see if he would be able to investigate the matter. On arrival in the small town of Carne, Smiley discovers that Stella Rode, the letter’s scribe, is already dead.
This is decidedly different from Call for the Dead and, I assume, the other Smiley books in that it isn’t a spy novel and it does not pass as a thriller at all – rather, it is a straightforward English whodunit.
I found this a real struggle as there wasn’t anything that excited or intrigued me. I had high hopes considering how I raced through the three other books from le Carré that I have read, but where those excelled in having a narrative that was addictive, A Murder of Quality came across as slow and cumbersome. It became something I had to drag myself to finish.
For the three le Carré novels that I have read thus far, he writes concisely and eloquently while maintaining a sense of intrigue that builds as the narrative progresses and the stakes begin to get higher and more costly. Again, his eloquence is on show here, but the story simply did not pique my interest. It simply came across as a lacklustre mystery. In the end, I wasn’t really bothered by who did it and why.
The Humpo Show | Richard