The movie inspired by Len Deighton (LD)'s The Ipcress File (TIF), first published in 1962, starred a very young Michael Caine as the nameless hero, modelled to some extent in the image of his creator. TIF is written in the I-form (first person singular) and readers are therefore drawn into his universe. Early in the book he is transferred from the UK War Office to an undercover counter-intelligence unit. His preferred consumables (Blue Mountain coffee, Gauloises cigarettes) suggest he has been abroad during and after WW II. Despite his lack of a classical upbringing (Eton, Oxbridge), he stands his ground against colleagues who did. At times he is insolent, flippant, ironic, even, sarcastic, then gradually, scared.
Because strange things are happening: UK scientists are disappearing and moved across the Iron Curtain. In the US, sensitive research data are leaked at an alarming speed and magnitude. What is going on? That is for the reader to find out. The book's venues are London and its periphery, Lebanon and the Tokwe atoll in the Pacific, a nuclear test site.
TIF was LDs debut. He has published some 40 books since, mostly on espionage during WW II and the Cold War (with 3 trilogies about spy Bernard Samson). His main interests in life show up in this debut: (1) its hero is a military history buff: LD later published a number of acclaimed books on WW II; (2) reflecting the hero's fondness for good food, LD wrote several cookbooks; (3) the nameless hero being a technology fan, LD's later books have always been at the forefront of espionage writing.
But fortunately, with LD technology never dominates, not now, not ever. TIF was prescient on the use of computers, ultra-high speed transmission, new uses of B-52 bombers and submarines, etc. TIF was a wonderful debut of a man who equals Le Carré impact on the genre in terms of atmosphere and English class issues, but sweeps him briskly aside on modern technology and its uses. A very influential debut.