A Murder of Quality by John le Carre – 20 Books of Summer

A Murder of Quality cover

A Murder of Quality by John le Carre was first published in 1962 and it features George Smiley.

Miss Brimley is an old friend of George Smiley, she’s the editor of a magazine called Christian Voice which has a very small list of subscribers. One of them – Mrs Rode – has sent a letter to Miss Brimley which says she is sure her husband is going to kill her and that she has no one else that she can turn to for help. Miss Brimley passes the letter on to her old friend Smiley, asking him to investigate.

Stella Rode’s husband is a housemaster at a prestigious English public school called Carne, but by the time Smiley gets there the deed has been done. Carne School is the sort of place that Smiley is well used to, presumably having been to such an institution himself. It doesn’t take Smiley long to discover that there’s a lot of nastiness within the school with the schoolmasters and their wives being consumed by petty jealousies and snobbery.

The Rodes seemed to be a mismatched couple and Stella went out of her way to upset her husband, choosing to side with the local townspeople with whom she was very popular, rather than with the snooty schoolmasters and their wives. There are the usual ‘town versus gown’ tensions such as you get in places like St Andrews.

This was a very quick but enjoyable read. Apparently before John le Carre found fame as an author he had been a master at Eton and he was inspired by his experiences there when writing this book. Presumably there weren’t any actual murders at Eton, but I can imagine that there were plenty of character assassinations!

This was one of my 20 Books of Summer reads, the sixteenth. I think I might manage to read all twenty of them.

4 thoughts on “A Murder of Quality by John le Carre – 20 Books of Summer

  1. I read several of the Smiley books in 2016, and this was one of them. I did not realize I read them that long ago and in just a few months. I did enjoy all of them, including this one. This one was more of a straight murder mystery, which I did not expect. And it was nice that it was a shorter novel. So many of his books are chunky.

    • tracybham,

      Yes I was happy when I realised this one wasn’t that long, I seem to have read so many chunky books this year, it’s almost like a rest cure when I read a short book!

  2. Katrina,
    How interesting about this book!!!
    I’m a bit confused about the dates of Le Carre’s books now. It seems that this one must have preceded The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Is that possible? I may be all off. But I am very curious, and interested. Thanks for letting me know about this one.

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