The first of his peerless novels of Cold War espionage and international intrigue, Call for the Dead is also the debut of John le Carré's masterful creation George Smiley.
After a routine security check by George Smiley, civil servant Samuel Fennan apparently kills himself. When Smiley finds Circus head Maston is trying to blame him for the man's death, he begins his own investigation, meeting with Fennan's widow to find out what could have led him to such desperation. But on the very day that Smiley is ordered off the enquiry he receives an urgent letter from the dead man. Do the East Germans - and their agents - know more about this man's death than the Circus previously imagined? Le Carré's first book, Call for the Dead, introduced the tenacious and retiring George Smiley in a gripping tale of espionage and deceit.
If you enjoyed Call for the Dead, you might like le Carré's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.
'Intelligent, thrilling, surprising ... makes most cloak-and-dagger stuff taste of cardboard' Sunday Telegraph
'Brilliant. Realistic. Constant suspense' Observer
Intelligent, thrilling, surprising ... makes most cloak-and-dagger stuff taste of cardboard.
Brilliant. Realistic. Constant suspense.
The greatest spy novelist of all time ... astounding works of the imagination.
Brilliant, popular, intelligent, thrilling, suspenseful, angry, original, masterful writing. Can't be topped.
An extraordinary writer who brought literary lustre and lived insight to the spy yarn.
One of those writers who will be read a century from now.
His Smiley novels are key to understanding the mid-20th century.
What Joseph Conrad started, John le Carré enshrined and made modern. That is the real achievement of his great novels and why they will endure ... we should see him as our contemporary Dickens.
Brilliant. Realistic. Constant suspense
Intelligent, thrilling, surprising ... makes most cloak-and-dagger stuff taste of cardboard
His death in December 2020 marked the end of a career which produced internationally acclaimed novels in every decade from the 1960s onwards. Le Carré’s work was enjoyed by readers and critics alike and adapted multiple times for film and television, making him one of the most celebrated and influential authors of modern times. But where to start if you’re new to this work? Here is our guide to get you hooked.
Alongside Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Shannon, Florence Pugh stars in The Little Drummer Girl, the latest adaptation of John le Carré’s thrilling novel of espionage and betrayal. Here she reads le Carré’s description of the character that she herself plays in the BBC series.