Last night I finished re-reading Call For The Dead, David Cornwell’s first spy novel.
I don’t know how many times I’ve read it. This, and a few other great crime novels, are collectively my security blanket while I am in a state of near suspicion about encountering new mysteries, new heroes, new complications.
I have found the exquisite comfort in re-reading loved books is enhanced by discovering characters or actions which, while so thoroughly known they have become family members, suddenly illuminate something beyond themselves, something in our real lives.
So it was when I read what Mendel, a retired police inspector, considered as he pursued Dieter Frey, the story’s complex arch-criminal, through fog-bound London streets. Is this how Mueller thinks in his pursuit?
There was a curious expression on Mendel’s face, not of hatred or iron purpose but of frank distaste. To Mendel, the frills of Dieter’s profession meant nothing. He saw in his quarry only the squalor of a criminal, the cowardice of a man who paid others to do his killing. When Dieter had gently disengaged himself from the [theater] audience and moved towards the side exit, Mendel saw what he had been waiting for: the stealthy act of a common criminal. It was something he expected and understood. To Mendel there was only one criminal class, from pickpocket and sneak-thief to the big operator tampering with company law; they were outside the law and it was his distasteful but necessary vocation to remove them to safe keeping.