Sometimes I enjoy reading books I might not ordinarily read, or books which I stumble on. Tuffy P brought home a few well used novels recently. She knows I enjoy an occasional spy novel so she included some books by well-known spy novelist John Le Carré. One of these was a short novel called A Murder of Quality. At 156 pages, it must be one of his shortest books. With a couple days before the end of the year, I thought I’d squeeze this one in (I checked on Goodreads – this was my 13th book of 2018, if it matters – about my usual rate of literary consumption). We have a long-standing tradition around here of hanging out at home on New Years Eve, and reading is a perfect activity for the occasion.
A Murder of Quality is the second of the George Smiley books, but strangely enough, it’s not a spy novel, but instead a quirky little whodunit. Smiley got involved with investigating a murder as a favour to a friend he knew from “the war”. The book was written in 1962 – I was 2 years old – and it feels like a book written in that time period. It’s decently well written and nicely paced, and overall I thought it was a pretty good whodunit.
This novel is timely for me to read in a way, even though the book is almost 6 decades old. It’s set in a religious private boys school. Here in Toronto, there has been a huge scandal at a private boys school, which has been in the news for some time. In Toronto, the issue was sexual assault among students, so-called hazing rituals taken to the point of violence and rape. The school in the novel also has an underlying cultural rot, and also deals issues around fitting in with the particular ugly school culture.
I’d call this novel decent entertainment. It’s nowhere near this author’s best work, but I gobbled it up and enjoyed it as a year-end read.