George Smiley was simply doing a favor for Miss Ailsa Brimley, an old friend and editor of a small newspaper. Miss Brimley had received a letter from a worried reader: "I'm not mad. And I know my husband is trying to kill me." But the letter had arrived too late: its scribe, the wife of an assistant master at the distinguished Carne School, was already dead. So George Smiley went to Carne to listen, ask questions, and think. And to uncover, layer by layer, the complex network of skeletons and hatreds that comprised that little English institution.