[It is] the story of Bernard Samson, an intelligence officer in the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). Like most spy fiction I have read, there is a large cast of characters, some continuing from the earlier novels, some new. Samson has personal relationships with old friends from Berlin and business relationships with other intelligence officers, and has to balance his loyalties and determine who he can trust. Family relationships are a big theme, probably one of the reasons I like the series.The backdrop of the series is the divided city of Berlin in the 1980s. Much of the story takes place in London, and for the majority of the books, London is Bernard's base. But Berlin and Germany are always part of the story. One of the overarching storylines in the series is the conflict between Bernard's love and affection for his wife, Fiona, and his sometimes lover, Gloria. Bernard and Fiona have two children, and the family dynamics are very important to the plot. The series of nine books is as much about Bernard's journey in that area as it is a spy story. The ambiguities and lies that are so much a part of espionage affect (and infect) Bernard's home life and love life.
From the back of my paperback edition:
A wonderful depiction both of covert operations and office politics, Charity is packed with action, incident and intrigue, bringing to a triumphant conclusion a series of ten novels that represents one of the great acheivements of modern English fiction.I agree wholeheartedly with this description. This book did not give me the ending I wanted, but I can see that the ending is the right one, the one that fits with the characters and the story. So overall I was happy with it, and it was a great end to a great series.
This is a list of the books in the series, with a link to my reviews.
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)
I am closing with the Author's Note from my hardback edition of Charity:
The first three books of the Bernard Samson story, Game, Set, and Match, are set in the Cold War period from spring 1983 to spring 1984.
Winter: A Berlin Family 1899-1845 was the next in order of writing. The same places and the same people are to be found in it.
Hook and Line take up the story from the beginning of 1987 and through the summer of that same year. Sinker uses a third-person narrative focusing on Fiona Samson. It tells the story from her point of view and reveals things that Bernard Samson still does not know.
Faith, Hope, and Charity continue the story. Faith starts in California as Bernard's terrible summer of 1987 turns cold. Hope follows it into the last week of 1987. Charity begins in the early days of 1988.
Like all the other books, Charity is written to stand alone, and can be read without reference to the other stories.
I thank my readers for their kindness, their generous encouragement, and their patience. Writing ten books about the same group of people has proven a demanding labor but certainly a labor of love.
—Len DeightonDeighton indicates that the books were written to stand alone. I don't disagree that this could work, for a certain type of reader. However, I recommend reading the series in order. Each book takes up where the last one left off and the enjoyment would be less without the background of the previous books. At the very least, read Berlin Game first; Game, Set, and Match are best read together.
I read all nine books, plus Winter, between January 2012 and August 2015. Based on the ratings I gave the books at Goodreads, I did not like all the books equally well, but overall I would give this series five stars. I am sorry it is over, but now I can reread the whole series.
Publisher: HarperCollins, 1996.
Length: 279 pages
Series: Bernard Samson
Setting: 1988, London, Berlin
Genre: Spy fiction
Source: I purchased my copies.