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review 2018-07-12 22:36
Berlin Game / Len Deighton
Berlin Game - Len Deighton

When a valuable agent behind the Iron Curtain signals he wants out, it's up to Bernard Samson, once active in the field but now anchored to a London desk, to undertake the crucial rescue. But soon, Samson is confronted with evidence that there is a traitor among his colleagues. And to find out who it is, he must sift through layers of lies and follow a web of treachery from London to Berlin until hero and traitor collide.

 

***2018 Summer of Spies***

Whether you’re reading the rather fanciful spy fiction of Ian Fleming or the gritty tales of John Le Carré, there seems to be liquor involved and in rather high quantities. Make Len Deighton’s protagonist, Bernard Samson, another of the spies who is a fan of copious amounts of liquor. I was right on track when I laid in a good supply of gin when starting my Summer of Spies.

Other than the liquor, Deighton’s work leans more toward the grittier realism of Le Carré. I’d never read either one of those authors before this summer and I’m impressed. Berlin Game is set in the same time period as The Spy Who Came In from the Cold and is also concerned with Cold War politics and the Berlin Wall. There’s a traitor in London somewhere and it is up to Samson to suss them out.

It’s not too long, not overly predictable and decently written. I don’t think I’m a big enough fan of the genre to continue on with the series, but I’m glad to know a little bit about Deighton now.

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text 2018-07-06 00:20
Summer of Spies - Tracking Post
Smiley's People - John le Carré
The Cutout - Francine Mathews
Collection: The Tailor of Panama / Our Game / The Night Manager - John le Carré
Black Roses - Jane Thynne,Julie Teal
They Came to Baghdad - Agatha Christie
Our Man in Havana - Graham Greene,Jeremy Northam
Open Secret: The Autobiography of the Former Director-General of MI5 - Stella Rimington
Who is Vera Kelly? - Rosalie Knecht,Elisabeth Rodgers
Berlin Game - Len Deighton,James Lailey
Above Suspicion - Helen MacInnes

Memorial Day Weekend -- Labor Day 2018

 

Finished, to Date:

Emmuska Orczy: The Scarlet Pimpernel (revisited on audio, narrated by Stephen Crossly) ****1/2

Agatha Christie: N or M? (revisited on audio, narrated by Samantha Bond) ***

Ian Fleming: Quantum of Solace (short story only; new / audio, narrated by David Rintoul) *1/2

Kate Westbrook: Guardian Angel (new / audio, narrated by Eleanor Bron) ***1/2

Stella Rimington: Secret Asset (new / audio, narrated by Rosalyn Landor) ****

Stella Rimington: Open Secret: The Autobiography of the Former Director-General of MI5 (new / print edition) ****

Francine Mathews: The Cutout (new / audio, narrated by Trini Alvarado) **1/2

Jane Thynne: Black Roses (new / audio, narrated by Julie Teal) ****

John le Carré: The Tailor of Panama (revisited on audio, narrated by the author) ****1/2

Graham Greene: Our Man in Havana (audio, narrated by Jeremy Northam) ****1/2

Agatha Christie: They Came to Baghdad (new / audio, narrated by Emilia Fox) ***1/2

Rosalie Knecht: Who Is Vera Kelly? (new / audio, narrated by Elisabeth Rodgers) ***1/2

Len Deighton: Berlin Game (new / audio, narrated by James Lailey) ****

 

John Le Carré: George Smiley Cycle

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (revisited on audio, narrated by the author) *****

The Looking Glass War (new / audio, narrated by Michael Jayston) ***1/2

Smiley's People (revisited on audio, narrated by Michael Jayston) *****


 

Currently Reading:

Helen MacInnes: Above Suspicion
 

 

 

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text 2018-07-05 17:57
Reading progress update: I've read 25 out of 303 pages.
Berlin Game - Len Deighton

 

I think I'm already hooked.  Good job, Mr. Deighton.

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text 2018-07-05 15:23
TBR Thursday
Berlin Game - Len Deighton
Jade City - Fonda Lee
Even - Andrew Grant
Bog Child - Siobhan Dowd
N or M? - Agatha Christie
A Poisoned Season - Tasha Alexander

The Summer of Spies continues, with Berlin Game, Even and N or M?  I get double points for Even, as it is a spy novel and its author, Andrew Grant, will be attending When Words Collide in August.

 

Plus two more books towards the When Words Collide conference:  Jade City and A Poisoned Season.  Both authors, Fonda Lee and Tasha Alexander, will be in attendance.  Tasha Alexander is one of the replacements for Deanna Raybourn (along with her husband, Andrew Grant, above).

 

And I've got only 1 renewal left for Bog Child, so I better just read it and return it to the library!

 

I've made great progress on the stack of books from the library--I'm down to one teetering stack rather than two!  My boyfriend is currently getting ready to move and is paring down his books, so he's been making some comments about the stacks around my house, cheeky bugger!  I've been having great luck at the used book store lately and I'm running out of shelves, but eventually those books will return to said store.  Having said that, a reorganization may be in order this weekend. 

 

Good reading, friends!

 

 

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review 2018-05-27 21:51
Berlin Game
Berlin Game - Len Deighton

‘Ever wonder why the Berlin Wall follows that absurd line?’ said Frank. ‘It was decided at a conference at Lancaster House in London while the war was still being fought. They were dividing the city up the way the Allied armies would share it once they got here. Clerks were sent out hotfoot for a map of Berlin but the only thing Whitehall could provide was a 1928 city directory, so they had to use that.

They drew their lines along the administrative borough boundaries as they were in 1928. It was only for the purposes of that temporary wartime agreement, so it didn’t seem to matter too much where it cut through gas pipes, sewers and S-Bahn or these underground trains either.

That was in 1944. Now we’re still stuck with it.’

Berlin Game was my first Len Deighton book and a glorious start to the Summer of Spies.

It was gritty without being  vulgar, it was smart without being pretentious, and the characters were properly developed individuals, not cliches.

 

We follow the story Bernard Samson, an intelligence officer who has been on office duties for a while but is forced to return to field work to extract a defector from East Berlin. Meanwhile, there is a KGB mole in Samson's London office - and everyone is a suspect, which is literally everyone for Samson, who is a spy, the son of a spy, the husband of a spy.

 

There was a lot to love about the simplicity of the story, there was a lot to love about Deighton's treatment of the characters, which Deighton describes in his introduction as - 

 

Finding somewhere, some redeeming feature of those we don’t much like, is a moral duty and a satisfying task.

 

And yet, there was something missing for me, too. 

 

The circle of characters involved seemed a little too confined. It worked to create a sense of claustrophobia, but the underlying sense of aversion to anything foreign displayed by many of the characters somehow both works for and against creating a feel of the international aspect of the espionage story. 

 

I look forward to seeing how this develops in the sequels to Berlin Game.

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