During the early 1960s, a British military intelligence organisation based in Blackfriars Road, London and referred to as "The Department," has been largely inactive since successfully running agents against the Nazis during the Second World War. Its rival is the more experienced and professional "Circus" led by "Control" and George Smiley.
This is his only book set outside the espionage community. George Smiley is called by a wartime colleague, Miss Brimley, who now edits a small Christian magazine and in this position has received a letter sent by Stella Rode, a reader who claims her husband is plotting to kill her.
Call for the Dead is John le Carré's first novel, published in 1961. It introduces George Smiley, the most famous of le Carré's recurring characters, in a story about East German spies inside Great Britain. It also introduces a fictional version of British Intelligence, called "the Circus" because of its location in Cambridge Circus, that is apparently based on MI6 and that recurs throughout le Carré's spy novels.