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on 18 April 2013
Many issues converge in this brilliant spy novel, part 1 of a 2nd trilogy about MI-6 spy Bernard Samson(BS). It reconfirms Len Deighton (LD)'s awesome powers of plotting and portrayal. Readers should enjoy the first trilogy "Game, Set & Match"(GS&M) to make the most of this fourth book about BS. [But any of the nine (9) novels on his spying career can be read as stand-alone thrillers.]
The first trilogy had a cast of a dozen key persons. "Spy Hook" begins in 1987, three years after "GS&M" ended. It is book 1 in a new trilogy called "Hook, Line and Sinker". True fans meet up with some old characters and are introduced to new movers and shakers in BS' murky universe. And some things never change: BS's lazy, younger superior Dicky Cruyer still dumps most of his paperwork in BS's in-tray... But how has he fared, now aged 44, three years on, professionally and domestically, with two children, girlfriend Gloria (now 22), a wife who defected, and himself still under a cloud?
This is the most complex book of the series so far, with BS sent on missions to the US. In between he makes his regular trips to his beloved Berlin, where he grew up and where personal ties and concerns take up a lot of his time. This book is all about an alleged, huge sludge fund... Several people get killed in this book. But one person presumed dead in part 3 does the opposite and returns to the world of the living. When BSs life and work cannot possibly become messier, a second corpse comes to life again. Do not expect quick answers in trilogies, but enjoy superb, colorful writing about spies whose parents go back to WW II.
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As with each of the books in the preceding Game / Set / Match trilogy, Spy Hook - the first of the sequel Hook / Line / Sinker trilogy - is, we are told, a book that can be read on its own. That's only sort-of true.

The genius of the rest of the trilogies about MI6 man Bernard Samson is the way plots are apparently wrapped up to give one book an ending, and then unpicked again when the story continues in the next book.

However, Spy Hook is the least plausible for solo reading as unlike the others the plot within it is not even apparently all wrapped up by the end. If you enjoy it, you'll most likely want to plunge on to Spy Line pretty quickly afterwards.

What's more the big question that gets opened up over who is really loyal and who is really a traitor comes with much more emotional punch if you've been reading the previous books and find some core elements of the story so far suddenly upended.

If, then, you read it the best way to enjoy it - in sequence - it's at its best. Even so it is rather slow for most of the book, with low key character development and relatively little happening on the espionage front for much of the book - until the big twist which follows Bernard Samson's attempts to track down a missing MI6 slush fund and which so nicely sets up the rest of the trilogy.

If you prefer audio books, by the way, you are in for a treat as once again James Lailey does a cracking job with his narration.
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on 25 June 2014
A really absorbing read. If you like the "spy thriller" genre then Len Deighton books are hard to beat. This is part of a trilogy, "Hook, Line & Sinker", which follows on from his "Game, Set & Match trilogy". Although any of the books in the series can be read as individual titles I found starting from the first book ("Berlin Game") gave more insight into the regularly occurring characters that appear in all the books in the series. The stories are set, mostly, around cold war Berlin with various forays to other international settings. The main character, Bernard Samson, is English but has a childhood background of post-war Berlin and now works for the British MI6 security service.
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You really have to have read the excellent "Game, Set and Match" trilogy to get the most from this book. You need to know the characters and the situation to fully enjoy it. Otherwise it is a book where the story neither starts nor ends in this book. Deighton's writing has become more confident in this book, and I really enjoyed it (having read the previous books). The story is slow to develop and stops abruptly, without resolving any of the questions raised, so you really do need to read it with the others.

If you have read "Game, Set and Match", this is as good (though I am beginning to worry about the amount of bluff and double-bluff involved).
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on 27 March 2014
Having read the previous trilogy I couldn't wait to get into the follow up - and it hasn't disappointed. Bernie Samson is a totally believable and flawed character who readers should easily identify and sympathize with. Another success for Mr Deighton.
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on 13 October 2015
Having read the first trilogy (Game, Set & Match) and then the wonderful Winter 1899-1945, I was excited about getting further with the hero/anti-hero, Bernard Samsum. Bernard isn't your normal spy. No gadgets and no pretensions. He is world weary, almost defeated and worn down by internal politics and the ambitions of those who are inferior to him. His principal 'weapon' is his knowledge of Berlin and the ability to pass as a native of that battered 'island' surrounded by the Communist regime of the DDR and their masters the USSR. The story takes us to Washington and we learn about what appears to be a huge fraud within the department. Little is added to help us understand the rationale behind the fraud or the suspects or why BS was sent to ask an awkward question. We then go to France and meet a character we got to know well in Winter. She is now very much older but still mentally sharp. We also meet another man with Hungarian roots who is not all he seems to be. This is a reasonable read but lacks the plot and intrigue that exuded from every pore in the earlier books. Lots of questions and allegations abound but with few real answers. We are told this book can be read as a stand alone but that's not really true. Hook left me hooked and you need to get into its sequel to find the answers (at least I think that will be the case). I hope this review will help.
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on 14 August 2013
This is the 6th book of a 3 triolgy run of books, that is, it is the 6th book of 9, with each book standing on it's own or in relation to the other 8. They're all excellent. This is my second time of reading the stories of Bernard Samson spy, and his family and acquaintances. The first time in the 80s, the books fit together well and keep me continually page turning.
Len Deighton is an excellent author who researches his subject well
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on 26 August 2015
You must read all Hook, Line and Sinker trilogy together and in sequence. Despite 'blurb' they do not stand up as separate books. There is a lot of cold war Berlin in these book which may not mean much to those born after 1970. As for Le Carre the plot depends on supposedly highly paid and clever people speaking to each other in ambiguous terms and not asking the obvious next question before setting off to put their own and other people's lives in danger. Unlike Le Carre, the background spy HQ operation is completely implausible. I am relieved I read all 3 books together and that I knew something of cold war Europe/Germany: without these, this book would ahve been pretty meaning less.
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on 7 September 2000
I found the previous Game/Set/Match trilogy engrossing but not the kind of books that I cannot put down. However Spy Line is just as engrossing and more entertaining.
The characters of Bernie, Werner, Dicky and so on are developed from the earlier stories and one feels one knows them...however in the world of spies you never know who your friends are!
From about one third in I raced through the book to it's somewhat surprising ending which has me eager to read the next in the series. I would recommend this, even to people who have not read the first trilogy.
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on 23 January 2016
Read this series years ago, all 9 books and have re-read the stories over the years multiple times. Bernard Samson, the much maligned tough guy from the wrong side of the Berlin tracks, plods brilliantly through the Cod War bureaucracy and brandishes his pistol and fists and uses dry wit to top it off. Not high-tech, but t he best of a counterpoint to LeCarre's Smiley. If you love Cold War stories, you have to pick this historically accurate story. Checkpoint Charlie awaits!
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