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»Le Carré first disclosed that Bingham was the inspiration for Smiley in 1999. Bingham had also written crime novels, and when one was reissued, Le Carré wrote in the introduction: «He had been one of two men who had gone into the making of George Smiley. Nobody who knew John and the work he was doing could have missed the description of Smiley in my first novel.»«

Jasper Copping, Ben Farmer and Hayley Dixon

Novelist John le Carré hits out at accusations that his portrayal of the world of espionage had »hurt« his former mentor in the intelligence services, on whom he partly based his most celebrated character, George Smiley. Jasper Copping, Ben Farmer and Hayley Dixon report at The Telegraph.

»It is a wonderful read and an exhilarating experiment, all wrapped up in a prose style that has a simplicity and precision that would make both Jane Austen and George Orwell whoop with joy. It is brilliant news that it has won the prize.«

Sarah Crompton

Kate Atkinson’s Costa Novel award for Life After Life shows that great writing can also be entertaining, says Sarah Crompton. Her view at The Telegraph.

»I got beaten up once when I was a journalist, and I’m fed up of reading all these crime novels where the hero gets beaten up and the next day they’re leaping out of bed all gung-ho and ready to roll. All I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head and never go out the house again.«

Val McDermid

The brutal cost of enforcing the law: Jake Kerridge in conversation with writer Val McDermid about her latest novel Cross and Burn and why it requires real guts to be a police officer. The portrait at The Telegraph.

»The truth is always so much more than the discovery of «whodunnit». Behind the vitrine of every concierge in the capital, Maigret encounters dozens of secret love affairs, unhappy marriages, family resentments, professional humiliations. And as he investigates, he repeatedly crosses that city which Simenon describes better than any novelist since Balzac – so often in the drizzle, but in all its beautiful seasons.«

A.N. Wilson

Crime writer with a slab of ice in his heart: A.N. Wilson about the three republished novels Pietr the Latvian, The Late M Gallet and The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien by Georges Simenon. His view at The Telegraph.

»Ian Rankin: You once said crime fiction was «a lower stratum of literary achievement». I know quite a few present-day crime writers who would contest that.

Arthur Conan Doyle: Hardly my concern, sir. But the lure of money and the heartbreak of my readers conspired to revive Holmes, much as your whisky is reviving my memories of Edinburgh’s low drinking dens.«

Ian Rankin

An extract from Dead Interviews: With the help of a Ouija board, Ian Rankin summons the spirit of Arthur Conan Doyle to discuss Sherlock, Rebus, and the best way to kill off a character. Read more at The Telegraph.

»So many people say to me, why don’t you write books faster? And I’ve tried to, just to see if I could. But working that way doesn’t come naturally to me. I would be miserable cranking out a book every three or four years. And if I’m not having fun writing it, people aren’t going to have fun reading it. I don’t want it to be just some little amusement-park ride. I mean, what’s the point of doing that?«

Donna Tartt

An enigma: Mick Brown in conversation with writer Donna Tartt about her latest novel The Goldfinch. Read the portrait at The Telegraph.

»The «hard-boiled» genre of detective fiction – tough realism with a vernacular dialogue; a focus on the less noble side of humanity – was defined for all time when Dashiell Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon, a multi-layered tale of greed and deceit.«

Will Hodgkinson

Dashiell Hammett’s drama was a ground-breaking work of detective fiction which paved the way for film noir, says Will Hodgkinson. His essay you will find at The Telegraph.

»A lot of people think of The Shining as one of the most scary books that they’ve read in their lives. (…) And I’ll say ‚well yes, you were 14 years old, you were away at summer camp and you were reading with a flashlight under the covers. Of course I scared you, you were easy!«

Stephen King

Stephen King says that he wrote Doctor Sleep, the sequel to his horror classic The Shining, because the character of the psychic boy Danny ’never really left my mind‘. Martin Chilton with a short portrait at The Telegraph.