Skip to main content

Top mysteries challenge review: The Game, Set & Match trilogy by Len Deighton

I suddenly realised that I had not yet posted my review of Deighton’s trilogy, so here it is:

While I listed these books separately on my TBR list, the trilogy is listed as one book in the CWA list, so I will be reviewing them all together. Each book gets a brief synopsis and a very short review, and then I will review the common points together. I will try not to drop serious spoilers in the synopses, so they will necessarily be rather telegraphic, but if you have not yet read these books you probably should avoid this review anyway.

Published: 1983-5.
Genre: Espionage thriller.
Type of investigator: MI6 agent.

Title: Berlin Game:
Setting & time: London and Berlin, contemporary.

Agent Bernard Samson has been doing desk work for 5 years but his superiors in MI6 want him to go out back in the field to convince a frightened spy in East Germany to stay in place for a while longer. The man is convinced that Stasi or the KGB are about to discover his identity, and the only person he trusts to smuggle him out is Bernie. While he is considering whether to accept the mission or not, Bernie noses around and discovers that a high-ranking agent may be a mole, but finding out just which agent is going to be a tough job.

Review and rating:
A thrilling and twisted tale about intelligence and counter-intelligence, agents and double agents, trust and friendship, doubt and double-crossing. 4 stars.

Title: Mexico Set:
Setting & time: London, Berlin and Mexico City, contemporary.

A known KGB agent is spotted in Mexico City, and MI6, eager to recover its dignity after the defection of an important member of its staff over to the Soviets, send Bernard Samson to try to convince the man to defect. Samson isn’t too keen on the idea, but he needs to prove his loyalty, and so begins a complicated set of manoeuvres that can lead to either success or disaster.

Review and rating:
This excellent sequel to Berlin Game has narrator Bernard Samson trying to outmanoeuvre an enemy agent who knows him almost as well as he knows himself. 4+ stars.

Title: London Match:
Setting & time: London and Berlin; contemporary.

Story: Bernard Samson becomes filled with suspicion after an encounter with a Soviet agent, thinking that perhaps the double agent who fled to the East in book one wasn’t the only Soviet agent working inside MI6.

Review and rating: This final book in the trilogy follows Bernard Samson as he tries to discover if one of his superiors is a Soviet double agent, and re-build his private life at the same time. The weakest of the three books. 3 stars.

Review for the trilogy: All three books are well written and full of twists and turns, double (and triple) crossings, suspicion, fear, hatred and suspense. Deighton is clearly a master of suspense, and manages to make the secret services and the scheming that goes on within them believable and realistic, at least to someone like me who knows little about the subject. Unfortunately the very good second book in the trilogy is a hard act to follow, and the third book, which should be the strongest, doesn’t quite deliver, although it does complete the plot that began with the first book and suggest that the game is just beginning, thus paving the way for the second Bernard Samson trilogy.

All-over rating: A fine series of spy thrillers that deliver suspense and betrayal galore. 4- stars.

Books left in challenge: 88

Place on the list(s): CWA 58.


Popular posts from this blog

Reading report for January 2014

Here it is, finally: the reading report for January. (February‘s report is in the works: I have it entered into Excel and I just need to transfer it into Word, edit the layout and write the preface. It will either take a couple of days or a couple of months).

I finished 26 books in January, although admittedly a number of them were novellas. As I mentioned in my previous post, I delved into a new(ish) type of genre: gay (or M/M) romance. I found everything from genuinely sweet romance to hardcore BDSM, in sub-genres like fantasy, suspense and mystery and even a quartet of entertaining (and unlikely) rock star romances. Other books I read in January include the highly enjoyable memoir of cooking doyenne Julia Child, two straight romances, and Jennifer Worth‘s trilogy of memoirs about her experiences as a midwife in a London slum in the 1950s. I also watched the first season of the TV series based on these books and may (I say 'may') write something about this when I have finis…

How to make a simple origami bookmark

Here are some instructions on how to make a simple origami (paper folding) bookmark:

Take a square of paper. It can be patterned origami paper, gift paper or even office paper, just as long as it’s easy to fold. The square should not be much bigger than 10 cm/4 inches across, unless you intend to use the mark for a big book. The images show what the paper should look like after you follow each step of the instructions. The two sides of the paper are shown in different colours to make things easier, and the edges and fold lines are shown as black lines.

Fold the paper in half diagonally (corner to corner), and then unfold. Repeat with the other two corners. This is to find the middle and to make the rest of the folding easier. If the paper is thick or stiff it can help to reverse the folds.

Fold three of the corners in so that they meet in the middle. You now have a piece of paper resembling an open envelope. For the next two steps, ignore the flap.

Fold the square diagonally in two. You…

List love: A growing list of recommended books with elderly protagonists or significant elderly characters

I think it's about time I posted this, as I have been working on it for a couple of months.
I feel there isn’t enough fiction written about the elderly, or at least about the elderly as protagonists. The elderly in fiction tend to be supporting characters, often wise elders (such as  Dumbledore in the Harry Potter books) or cranky old neighbour types (e.g. the faculty of Unseen University in the Discworld series) or helpless oldsters (any number of books, especially children’s books) for the protagonist to either help or abuse (depending on whether they’re a hero or not).
Terry Pratchett has written several of my favourite elderly protagonists and they always kick ass in one way or another, so you will see several of his books on this list, either as listed items or ‘also’ mentions.
Without further ado: Here is a list of books with elderly protagonists or significant, important elderly characters. I leave it up to you to decide if you’re interested or not, but I certainly enjoyed…