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Call for the Dead

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Title: Call for the Dead  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Peter Guillam, John le Carré, The Incongruous Spy, A Murder of Quality, Moscow Centre
Collection: 1961 Novels, British Novels, Debut Novels, Novels by John Le Carré, Spy Novels, Victor Gollancz Ltd Books
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Call for the Dead

Call for the Dead.
First edition
Author John le Carré
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series George Smiley
Genre Crime, Spy novel
Publisher Gollancz
Publication date
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 157 pp
OCLC 48961892
Followed by A Murder of Quality

Call for the Dead is

  • Call for the Dead, Penguin, 1965.


  1. ^ Bickerton, Roger. "Radio Plays 1945–1997: Serials". Retrieved 27 November 2012. 


Call for the Dead was first adapted as a BBC Radio 4 drama in 1978.[1] Subsequently, it was the first story to be broadcast in BBC Radio 4's major series to feature all the Smiley novels ("The Complete Smiley"), with Simon Russell Beale in the main role. Other characters and actors are as follows: Inspector Mendel—Kenneth Cranham; Elsa Fennan—Eleanor Bron; Ann Smiley—Anna Chancellor; Peter Guillam—Richard Dillane; Maston—James Laurenson; Dieter Frey—Henry Goodman; Adam Scarr/Mundt—Sam Dale; Ludo Oriel—Janice Acquah; Nursing Sister—Caroline Guthrie; With Benjamin Askew and Jonathan Tafler. The novel was adapted as a 90-minute drama by Robert Forrest, produced by Patrick Raynor, and was transmitted on 23 May 2009.

Call for the Dead was filmed as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold), Harry Andrews as Mendel, Simone Signoret as Elsa Fennan and Maximilian Schell as Dieter Frey. The major change in the script from the book is the addition of an affair between Ann Smiley and Dieter Frey, which presages the events of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974 novel).

Film, television, radio and theatrical adaptations

  • the Circus
  • Samuel Fennan – a British civil servant, who committed an apparent suicide
  • Elsa Fennan – his wife, formerly a refugee from Nazi Germany
  • Inspector Mendel – Smiley's contact with the Metropolitan Police
  • Peter Guillam – an officer of the Circus subordinate to Smiley
  • Maston ("The Ministers' Adviser on Intelligence") – head of service for the Circus
  • Adam Scarr – a semi-criminal "businessman"
  • Hans-Dieter Mundt, aka "Blondie" – an agent of East German intelligence
  • Dieter Frey – an agent of East German intelligence, and a former wartime agent of Smiley's

Characters in Call for the Dead

Dieter Frey is the first of several considerably sympathetic Jewish/Communist characters appearing in the le Carré books, followed by Liz Gold and Fiedler in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.

Dieter was dead, and he had killed him. The broken fingers of his right hand, the stiffness of his body and the sickening headache, the nausea of guilt, all testified to this. And Dieter had let him do it, had not fired the gun, had remembered their friendship when Smiley had not. They had fought in a cloud, in the rising steam of the river, in a clearing in timeless forest: they had met, two friends rejoined, and fought like beasts. Dieter had remembered and Smiley had not.

One of these was Dieter Frey, a young German Communist who at the time had a common cause with Smiley in fighting the Nazis and also became his personal friend. Because of the Cold War, Frey had become Smiley's foe, while in a way still remaining his friend. When meeting Smiley again, in the fog near the Thames, Frey greets Smiley with "Servus, George!" before commencing the battle. After killing him, Smiley feels extremely guilty:

The book starts with a chapter describing Smiley's earlier career (including his unlikely marriage to and unsurprising separation from Lady Ann Sercombe, a beautiful and promiscuous aristocrat), his recruitment by a lecturer in Oxford and his work in locating promising young Germans with "agent potential" and recommending them for recruitment by the British service prior to WWII.

The antecedents of Smiley and Frey

Smiley turns down Maston's offer of promotion and flies to Zurich to see his estranged wife, Ann.

When confronted with Smiley's evidence, Elsa confesses to Smiley that her husband was an East German spy, that she was his unwilling accomplice in passing secret documents in the music cases, and that Fennan was killed by Mundt after Frey saw him talking to Smiley. However, Guillam learns that during the last six months, Fennan had been taking home insignificant, unclassified documents. Smiley realises that Elsa herself is the East German spy and that Fennan had accused himself to meet someone with whom he could discuss his suspicions about his wife. Smiley sets a trap, using his knowledge of Frey's tradecraft from the war to inspire a rendezvous between Frey and Elsa. When Frey utilises the meeting to kill Elsa, he is trailed by Mendel and killed by Smiley while attempting to escape.

number plates of the seven cars parked in the road. Mendel traces one car to a car dealer, Adam Scarr. He tells Mendel that he rents it out twice a month to a stranger known as "Blondie", who matches Smiley's intruder. Smiley is subsequently attacked and nearly killed while trying to track the car to "Blondie", and Scarr is killed. Investigating further, Mendel learns that Elsa attends a local theatre twice a month with "Blondie", and that the two exchange music cases at each performance. "Blondie" is soon identified by fellow Circus agent Peter Guillam as Hans-Dieter Mundt, an East German agent under diplomatic cover working for Dieter Frey, a German spy of Smiley's during World War II who has since become an important East German agent. Smiley believes that Frey would use a courier like Mundt to service only one highly placed resident agent. Guillam reports that Mundt has fled England.

Plot summary

  • Plot summary 1
  • The antecedents of Smiley and Frey 2
  • Characters in Call for the Dead 3
  • Film, television, radio and theatrical adaptations 4
  • References 5
  • Sources 6


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