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John Bingham (1) (1908–1988)

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Verk av John Bingham

Five Roundabouts to Heaven (1953) 97 exemplar, 4 recensioner
My Name is Michael Sibley (1952) 76 exemplar, 2 recensioner
A Fragment of Fear (1967) 45 exemplar, 1 recension
Nattens brott (1961) 24 exemplar, 1 recension
Inspektor Morgans dilemma (1955) 21 exemplar, 1 recension
Murder Plan Six (1958) 19 exemplar
Marion (1960) 13 exemplar
The Double Agent (1966) 13 exemplar
God's Defector (1976) 12 exemplar
I repets skugga (1957) 10 exemplar
I Love, I Kill (1968) 10 exemplar
Brock and the Defector (1982) 7 exemplar
Brock (1981) 6 exemplar
Vulture in the Sun (1971) 3 exemplar
A Case of Libel 1 exemplar
Deadly Picnic (1980) 1 exemplar
The Marriage Bureau Murders (1977) 1 exemplar
Lockfågeln 1 exemplar
Mitt namn är ... 1 exemplar
Crime at Lark Cottage (2018) 1 exemplar

Associerade verk


Allmänna fakta

Namn enligt folkbokföringen
Bingham, John Michael Ward (Baron Clanmorris of Newbrook, 7th)
Andra namn
Lord Clanmorris
Cheltenham College
Bingham, Charlotte (daughter)
Bingham, Madeleine (wife)
Kort biografi
John Michael Ward Bingham - who became the seventh Lord Clanmorris - was born in Haywards Heath on 3 November 1908.

He was educated at Cheltenham College and became an art editor for the 'Sunday Dispatch'. He married Madeleine Mary Ebel on 28 July 1934.

During the Second World War he served with the Royal Engineers and was attached to the General Staff. He also worked for MI5 and was supposedly the inspiration for John Le Carre's George Smiley. And over the course of thirty years, he served MI5 in various high-ranking capacities, including undercover agent.

He wrote under a pseudonym and published 17 novels in the thriller, detective and spy fields. These included 'My Name is Michael Sibley', his first novel published in 1952. 

He succeeded to the title of 7th Baron Clanmorris on 24 June 1960.



Five Roundabouts to Heaven, by John Bingham, Preface by John Le Carre.

Spoiler Alert: the Kindle edition I bought at a mercifully reduced price in 2024 is appalling in its layout. Paragraphs are misaligned and their divisions ignored. In a novel of many conversations this coagulation of the printed text impedes ready understanding. One can only regret the mutilation that the Kindle electronic gremlins have inflicted on a memorable book by a significant author. A quick check shows that the only other Bingham novel available in a Kindle version, the excellent ‘Fragment of Fear’ has suffered the same fate. My rating of the book takes no account of the deficiencies of the Kindle edition.

In a quite literal sense, reading ‘Five Roundabouts’ is a novel experience. The delicately condescending preface by Le Carre, his posthumous tribute to Bingham, has the strange effect of making Bingham and Le Carre participate as characters in one’s experience of reading the novel. Bingham was a British secret service spy who also wrote novels. He was senior to Le Carre who was also briefly a spy; they worked together in shared amity for some years before Le Carre quitted the service. Bingham’s example inspired Le Carre as a novelist. As well, he provided Le Carre with a model for the appearance and mannerisms of George Smiley, the most memorable of the characters in his spy novels. Like Bingham, Smiley is fat, bespectacled and dresses in expensive clothes that do not fit his squat body. Smiley, like Bingham, polishes his spectacles with the fat end of his tie in moments of rumination. Though Alec Guinness made Smiley unforgettable in cinema versions of the Le Carre spy novels, something was lost with the transformation of Smiley’s toad-like ungainliness in Guinness’ more urbane portrayal. Physical characteristics aside, Bingham also possessed Smiley’s empathic skills and manipulative expertise as an interrogator of human frailty. So too, of course, did Le Carre; such expertise was part and parcel of their shared expertise in spycraft.

Five Roundabouts is not a spy novel. I would have been unthinkable for Bingham to betray his trade in that way. It is an excursion into the mind of Philip Bartels, an unfaithful husband to his wife Beatrice, who persuades himself that it will be a kindness to end her life with a painless poison rather than inflict the suffering that would result from ending their marriage and leaving her for another woman. His desire to avoid the infliction of pain is quite genuine. He kills their dog Brutus to assure himself that the poison he has chosen is swift and painless.

The excursion into Bartel’s mind is conducted by Peter Harding, a close friend from their schooldays, who has his own role to play in the unravelling of the Bartels’ marriage. The novel begins with Harding’s sentimental pilgrimage to the French chateau where they once took language classes as young unmarried men in preparation for their professional lives. Nineteen years have passed since then. Harding settles into a pipe-smoking remembrance of Phillip Bartels in the garden of the chateau. What follows is an extended nested or embedded narrative in which Peter Harding explores the plans and preparations Bartels made for the murder of his wife during those intervening years when their marriage soured. As a reader, I found the encounter with the mind of Bartels protracted and agonising in its suspense. I did resist however, the temptation to skip to the end of the book to put an end to my mounting discomfort. Bingham achieves the dubiously enjoyable effect of mounting suspense by relating Bartels’ fastidious rehearsals of the steps he must take if he is to kill Beatrice, avoid detection and marry the woman he loves. Choice of poison, substitution of medicine bottles, the potential testimony of the housemaid who might notice a difference in the level of powder in the bottle, fingerprints, his alibi, imagined interrogations by suspicious police and a host of other details are rehearsed in exhaustive detail. In these passages of precautionary planning there is a marked resemblance between Bingham and Le Carre in their craft as authors. Readers of Le Carre will be familiar from his spy novels of the obsessive attention to the minutiae of concealment and subterfuge necessary to ensure a facade of innocence or non-involvement.

The book does conclude with a murder; I refrain however from revealing the denouement. There is another intriguing and personal dimension of ‘Five Roundabouts’ that can be revealed. It becomes apparent from Michael Jago’s biography of Bingham, ‘The Man Who Was George Smiley’ (2013), that Phillip Bartels and his narrator Peter Harding together incorporate significant elements of Bingham’s own life. His murderous impulses, if any, found sufficient expression in his novels.

A final note on the strange simulacrum of parental relationship between John Bingham and John Le Carre, whose authorial name meaning ‘square’, was originally suggested to him by Bingham, a man who was himself so completely a ‘square’. In the posthumous preface to ‘Five Roundabouts’ Le Carre says he ‘would dearly like to have called (him) my friend’. But their friendship ended with Le Carre’s success as a spy novelist. Bingham accepted his portrayal as the unprepossessing and nondescript George Smiley. But never forgave Le Carre for his exposure of the British secret service to ridicule and contempt. He could neither understood nor forgive Le Carre’s attacks on ‘his own mob, directly in interviews or obliquely in books’. His reproaches were typically mild but final, ’You are far from being pro-Soviet Russia or pro-Communist, but I would think the attacks gave comfort and even pleasure and glee in some places.’
… (mer)
Pauntley | 3 andra recensioner | Jul 2, 2024 |
Terrific story! A very clever psychological mystery with a difference. Ordinary characters but between villainous plans and commonplace deception Bingham leads the reader on a twisty rollercoaster ride. The story features Philip Bartels, his wife Beatrice, his lover Lorna, and his friend Peter. But who in the end is murdered? Who is guilty?

This was a fine entry in HRF Keating's Crime and Mystery 100 Best Books list. I will definitely be on the lookout for more by Bingham.

The introduction by John le Carré was terrific. They had been friends when they worked together at MI5 and although they'd had a falling out le Carré based his famous character George Smiley on Bingham.

"On the whole Bingham bypassed the usual crime-writing tricks of the trade to evoke surprise or mystery; instead he brought a new approach to crime fiction by emphasizing psychological realism."-- John le Carré
… (mer)
1 rösta
VivienneR | 3 andra recensioner | Jun 13, 2022 |
Five Roundabouts to Heaven by John Bingham was an excellent read. A story about friendship, love and loyalty but skewed into a twisty, insightful tale of infidelities and murder. Peter Harding and Philip Bartels have a friendship that goes back to when they were boys together although Peter does think himself superior to Philip in all ways. One night as they meet for drinks, Philip revels that he is going to leave his wife, Beatrice for a woman he thinks is the love of his life, Lorna. Peter thinks this is a huge mistake as Beatrice is a lovely woman, and, in his opinion makes Philip an excellent wife. Then he meets Lorna and falls in love with her himself. He decides that he must try to keep Philip and Beatrice together so that he can win Lorna for himself. Meanwhile Philip has come to the conclusion that Beatrice will be devastated if he leaves so the more compassionate thing to do is to murder Beatrice so that he can win his freedom.

This is just the beginning of a fantastic story where the characters misbehave, miscalculate and then try to justify their actions. The author skilfully weaves the various threads together into a tight plot that, after a slightly slow start, held this reader spellbound. Five Roundabouts to Heaven is intriguing as is the author who apparently was a mentor to John Le Carre in the “spy” business and was a model for George Smiley. This book is another winner from the HRF Keating List of 100 Best Crime and Mystery Books.
… (mer)
DeltaQueen50 | 3 andra recensioner | Feb 17, 2022 |
When a fire is reported at 127 Paton St., Chief Detective Inspector David Morgan immediately expects it was arson. That all changes when the insurance inspectors discover a body hidden inside a piece of furniture. The German immigrant owners, Otto and Rose Steiner, of the furniture store on the street level act suspicious and are evasive about the their connections with the dead man. Once they start investigating Robert Draper, the corpse in the burnt apartment, all sorts of nasty stuff comes out about him and the people in his circle.

Sergeant Shaw, Morgan's assistant, has little sympathy for immigrants and especially German immigrants despite they being Jews who fled Nazism. As the two police officers sort through the lies and false leads, the secrets of many of the characters are revealed. The two officers in a couple of cases through their heavy handed interviews or lack of empathy cause major disruption to the lives of several characters leading to suicide and another murder.

This is an intriguing read with many characters and many twists and turns. The reader may wish to record each character on paper as they appear in the narrative in order to keep them strait. I did notice when composing this review that some key characters appeared on page two and then disappeared until much later in the narrative.
… (mer)
lamour | Nov 5, 2021 |



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