John LeCarré has died, at the age of 89. I read his work voraciously, beginning in my early years of discovery of mysteries and thrillers, and continuing until now. It is beyond me to write a proper appreciation of his contributions to the genre, but for me, what set his writing apart from the dozens, hundreds who wrote “spy fiction” was his ability to reveal the humanity of his characters.

It was a very special thrill, then, when in 2004, not only did W. W. Norton publish my first major book, The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Short Stories, it included an introduction by LeCarré! I felt incredibly honored that this master of literature would even read my work! He wrote fondly of Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes and offered this kind apology for my outlandishly detailed and heavily-footnoted work:

Now read on. You have in your hand the Final Solution to the collected Sherlock Holmes stories, enriched by a lengthy and learned introduction. Do not be dismayed. Nobody writes of Holmes and Watson without love.

In later years, I tried to meet with him to thank him in person, but he was notoriously shy of visitors and declined. I must be content, then, with this indirect connection.

A giant has passed from among us. Ave atque vale, David Cornwell!

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