From the book's dust jacket flap:
Deighton ... deftly re-creates the internecine squabbling and self-preserving panic that characterized spying in the months before the Berlin Wall crumbled and the Eastern Bloc dissolved. With cold war loyalties shifting in the freezing wind, Bernard is forced back into the "game", this time without the moral sureness that evil lies exclusively on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Caught between his job and his ethics, his past and his future, and the two women he loves, trapped in a maze of deception and danger where nothing is what it seems, Samson undertakes a mission that leads from rural Poland to the heart of London Central.The previous four books in the series were set in 1987, and as far as I can tell, this book follows closely on the last one. The plot revolves around the death of Bernard's sister-in-law, Tessa Kosinski. Tessa bequeathed her apartment in London to Fiona, Bernard's wife, so they are now living there. Tessa died in Germany and her body has never been returned to her husband, George. George has disappeared, and Bernard and his boss are trying to track him down in Poland. George's family still lives in Poland. So, lots of international intrigue. Lots of revelations about characters. And along with all of that, the continuing saga of Bernard's home life.
As I get closer to the end of the nine book series about Bernard Samson, it is even more difficult to review each book, especially without telling too much that has gone before. For this series, I am a firm believer in reading in order, although Deighton has said in his introductions to the books that he wrote each one to stand alone. So I will make this post more a set of quotes from other sources, with some of my thoughts on the entire series.
Several reviewers who have read all of the Bernard Samson novels found this to be one of the weakest in the series. It may be, in comparison to the previous novels in the series, but I still found it better reading that most other spy fiction I read. My passion for Bernard Samson's story may have influenced my opinion.
Simon at Simon's Book Blog says:
...what I have said about several of the others applies with more force here: start at the beginning with Berlin Game and you will want to read the whole Bernard Samson story; do not start in the middle or near the end. [emphasis is mine]Robert Latona has written a long post at Open Letters Monthly about a reread of the nine Bernard Samson novels. (Latona's article does include spoilers for the series.) He notes that the novels in a large part are about relationships, and that is what I love about the series.
I have been on a re-reading binge and find all nine novels to be aging quite nicely, perhaps because they are only secondarily “about” Cold War intrigue, though they have got plenty of that. “Human relationships” are his real subject, Deighton once stated, and he is skillful enough to make British Intelligence work for him as the Church of England did for Trollope, as the framework on which the hidden professional and personal agendas of his characters enter into conflict with one another.Now I have only one more book to read in the series, and I am sad about that. On the other hand, I could start rereading the series with Berlin Game as soon as I finish the ninth book, so I have that to look forward to.
Another great resource is the website, The Deighton Dossier. It covers all subjects relating to Len Deighton, and here is a page with an overview of the Bernard Samson series.
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)
Publisher: HarperCollins, 1995.
Length: 295 pages
Series: Bernard Samson
Setting: 1987, London, Berlin, Poland
Genre: Spy fiction
Source: I purchased my copy.