John le Carré – A Murder Of Quality

30Jun09


Background:

This book was also picked up as part of the Take A Chance Challenge – Judge A Book By Its Cover. The copy of the book has a cover identical to the one on the left, and I fell in love with it! I’ve only read one le Carré before: The Constant Gardener. That was about four years ago, and while I liked the book, for some reason I can’t pinpoint, I’ve never picked up another one… until now!

So, what’s so special about the cover? Well, for starters, it’s simple. It’s not glossy, like most covers out there. Instead, it’s got a matte finish, with the title of the book being glossy. I love the way the title is sprawled, the font and the color. Finally, there’s the picture: it shows a hut in the middle of nowhere.

Taking all of the above into account, you know it’s got to be a good mystery. The author is well-known, the cover is simple (which would normally signify the plot being simple and not overtly convoluted, which tarnishes most mystery books), and it’s got the ‘surprise’ factor: “where is this happening? Is it realistic?” And most importantly, is it a proper ‘whodunnit’, with ample clues scattered around, to that the inner detective can piece them together?

It’s always amazing, when you pick up a book randomly, and it turns out to be fantastic, meeting your expectations almost all the way.

Review:

An unpopular teacher’s wife is killed in a prestigious boarding school, Carne. A school where ‘perception dies with puberty,’ and one of its oldest teachers claims never to have taught a student. Instead, the rare scholar that does go through has ignored the ‘cult of mediocrity’ which the school has propagated through the generations.

A murder in a school is always going to be talked about – by the students, the staff, and the media. However, what makes this murder slightly more bizarre is the fact that the victim wrote to Christian Voice, claiming that her husband was going to kill her. By the time Miss Aisla, the editor, received the letter, and got in touch with an old friend, George Smiley, to help her investigate the veracity of it, Stella Rode was dead. So, you have the obvious suspect: the husband! But, what if he has an airtight alibi?

As Smiley sets out to determine who the culprit is, the reader is given an insight into how respectable people really aren’t as straightforward as you’d expect them to be. Conversely, they tend to be petty and small-minded, attracting attention to themselves, as possible suspects, for… if it comes down to that, everyone has a motive.

The book is not complicated; it doesn’t twist and turn, looking for the ‘shock’ ending. However, what le Carré masterfully does is, weave a story, which keeps the user engrossed and guessing. Honestly, I didn’t figure out who the perpetrator was, but, when it was disclosed, almost casually, I wasn’t surprised. The other thing is, the book was kept short and simple, at 180 pages, and that’s what a good mystery novel should do!

Rating: 4

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4 Responses to “John le Carré – A Murder Of Quality”

  1. I rahter like the sound of this, short and sweet – an easy read. I really don’t recall reading any of his books — odd probably, since he is so well known.

    Thanks for popping by and commenting on my blog, I do appreciate it.

    I am a little late in responding as the month end is a very busy time for me, but I am catching up, slowly!

    Check out my latest What’s on Your Desk Wednesday post! http://bit.ly/105lli

    And I have new giveaways, too! More coming soon.

    Catch you again — I should be in bed sleepinig — but like an addiction — just one more!

    Sassy
    :)

    • 2 uncertainprinciples

      I know… I read Constant Gardener, and then completely forgot he existed, despite really enjoying the book. He’s all over the shops at the moment though… might have something to do with his new novel?

      Hope you ended up having a good night’s sleep :)

  2. I love your analysis of the cover … I see why you might be drawn to it too. You tell it is a well-known author by the use of the big last name and nothing else. seems like the book was a pretty accurate representation of the basics of the mystery and style of book. I have not read any LeCarre and perhaps I shall change that as you have me intrigued with this book. Great job!

    • 4 uncertainprinciples

      Thanks :)

      When I think about it, the thing about this book is, it’s not as fast-paced as a normal mystery thriller. Considering it’s only 180 pages, that seems slightly bizarre. Really well-written and enjoyable otherwise, so I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.


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