Thursday, July 31, 2014

Faith: Len Deighton

From the dust jacket flap of the US hardback edition:
Prime minister of the political thriller, Len Deighton is back in top form with the first of a new trilogy in the continuing saga of Bernard Samson, the intrepid, insolent, and enigmatic agent of Deighton's blockbuster series: the Game, Set, and Match and Hook, Line, and Sinker trilogies. 
This series is Cold War spy fiction. The first trilogy is set in 1983 - 1984. The second trilogy takes place in 1987. This novel follows directly on the events of the 6th book.

The problem with reviewing books from this series is that I cannot say much about the plot without revealing spoilers for previous books. Len Deighton said, in his introduction, that this book and all books in the series were designed to stand alone. Personally, I would read them in order.

Bernard Samson is my favorite spy. He is one of my favorite fictional characters of any type (not that I have a list). I like this series of books because the story is (usually) told in first person, by Bernard, and he is very entertaining.

These books have everything I look for: great characters, good plotting, and an engaging style of writing. But I also appreciate the exploration of relationships: within families, with friends, and in the workplace.  Bernard is an intelligence officer in the British Secret Intelligence Service, originally working in Germany, now working out of the London office. The office politics there don't seem much different from offices I have experienced, although with more far reaching effects.

This is a list of the books in the series, with a link to my review if there is one.

1. Berlin Game (1983)
2. Mexico Set (1984)
3. London Match (1985)
4. Spy Hook (1988)
5. Spy Line (1989)
6. Spy Sinker (1990)
7. Faith (1994)
8. Hope (1995)
9. Charity (1996)

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Publisher:  HarperCollins, 1994.
Length:      337 pages
Format:     Hardcover
Series:       Bernard Samson
Setting:      1987, London, Berlin, Zurich
Genre:       Spy fiction
Source:      I purchased my copy.

14 comments:

  1. I'm definitely going to try and get this series started next year, unless of course I forget when the time comes, which is highly likely!

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    1. I know exactly how that is, Col. I have several series I want to get back to (Nameless series by Pronzini, Matt Scudder by Lawrence Block) and authors I want to read (Elmore Leonard, Derek Raymond) and I keep pushing them all back or forget about them.

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  2. I was always amused by Deighton's claim that you could read these in any order - I really think you would lose a lot that way! I do love this cycle of books, though for me it probably did come to a more natiral climax with SPY SINKER - but Deighton is always good value - great that you are doing all of the series - will you review WINTER too?

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    1. Sergio, I did review Winter, back in March 2012. I just did not include it in the list of the books in the series. I know that Deighton considers it a part of the series and it is useful but not necessary... at least not as far as I have gotten. I did enjoy that book too.

      The review is here:
      http://bitterteaandmystery.blogspot.com/2012/03/winter-berlin-family-1899-1945-by-len.html

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    2. Thanks TracyK - My marbles are certainly not where they once were ...

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    3. Believe me, it gets worse, Sergio. I am much further along than you are.

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  3. I bought a bunch of his books. Will read them eventually. Why do you feel that they must be read in order? Are you lost if you start anywhere or you just feel that you would get more out of the series by reading them in order? I plan to start with the prequel and go in that order. I think he wrote the prequel after he wrote the first trilogy. I love Cold War fiction. I just have to be in the mood to read them which is anytime really.

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    1. Keishon, I think it is important to read the first 6 in order, because once you get to #6 (maybe #5), if you go back and read other previous books, some of the outcome will be obvious...sort of. For my own enjoyment, I would have been super mad reading #1 in the series if I had known the outcome. But each can work fine as a standalone, as far as the story arc within the book, I think. I did read WINTER after the first trilogy but I could have read it anytime. It just gives historical background, as I remember it.

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  4. Tracy - I'm so glad you're enjoying your foray into Deighton. There's something really satisfying I think about following the fortunes of people's lives or of groups over time; I can see why you think it's best to read these in order...

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    1. Margot, it is interesting that the story covers only a few years (except for WINTER). It seems like it goes on much longer than that. I guess some of the books go back into Bernard's earlier years.

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  5. I still have a couple to read before I reach this one, but am looking forward to it. SOOO agree with you, and Sergio, that Len D is wrong about reading them out of order. There would be such spoilers!

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    1. Moira, I was relieved that this book was just as good as previous ones, maybe even better.

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  6. Tracy, you continue to poke me in the ribs with a Len Deighton! Does Bernard Samson figure in all nine novels you listed out?

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    1. Yes, Bernard Samson is a major figure in all nine books. Only Bernard's father is in WINTER, and it is a historical novel in a different style. I think Len Deighton is my 2nd favorite author (after Rex Stout) right now.

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