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on 4 June 2012
Deighton remains chiefly known for his first 4 books (The Ipcress File through to Billion Dollar Brain) featuring the grammar school educated WOOC(P) agent, named Harry Palmer in the Michael Caine films. Less well known are his next four spy novels: An Expensive Place to Die (1967), Spy Story (1972), Yesterday's Spy (1975) & Twinkle Twinkle Little Spy (1976).

Probably overshadowed by the 1980s Bernard Samson novels and some excellent World War 2 fiction and non-fiction, they seem chiefly unmemorable because of the mystery of the unnamed protagonist. While some argue they feature the 'Harry Palmer" character of the first 4 books, others contend they are 4 completely different people! Even the new covers teasingly suggest they could be all the same, but it's ultimately up to you.

Although originally touted as an alternative to 007, Deighton's novels had drifted increasingly into supervillain tackling globetrottery. Nothing wrong with that, but you sense that the WOOC(P) team had become a little too cosy for Deighton's liking and he wanted to return to the murky uncertain world he'd depicted early on. It's an exciting and refreshing move.

Story: The last of Deighton's unnamed protagonist spy novels sees a Russian scientist defect, largely to better his chances of extra-terrestrial communication. Out of this world (in more senses than one) this book's sheer unlikeliness is ultimately what sells it. Entitled Catch a Fallling Spy in USA, it's more Billion Dollar Brain, say, than The Ipcress File.

There are a wealth of exotic locations (Africa, Paris, New York) to enjoy, and loyalties shift like the Saharan sands. However, for all its extravagance, it's as delightfully cynical as the best of Deighton: the naieve defector is quickly in over his head, only to rapidly cause headaches to his new paymasters who begin to wonder if they have bitten off more than they can chew. While it's not Deighton's best, it's a fine sign off for the unnamed protagonist(s) -all of him- and deserves the wider audience this reissue will provide.
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on 10 August 2012
Written and set in the 70s, Twinkle Twinkle Little Spy starts with the unnamed British hero, and Major Mann, his gung ho American counterpart, trying to secure the defection of a Soviet scientist, who they hope will lead them to someone leaking NATO satellite secrets. It has all the ingredients for a classic spy book: the Cold War, defections and doublecrosses, a beautiful red headed backgammon player, snappy dialogue, an enigmatic hero, assassination attempts and car chases, and a dramatic ending.

For Deighton fans, it comes after the 60s classics (Ipcress File, Billion Dollar Brain etc) but is a return to their style - the anonymous hero, lots of moving around the world (Algeria, Ireland, New York and Miami all feature), plenty of dialogue and action, and Deighton's eye for detail and characters - his new foreword says that he learnt about desert driving while following the Sahara Rally. It has a bit more 70s glamour and less Cold War atmosphere than his early classics. But it is one of my favourites.

I would recommend it to pretty much anyone wanting a good thriller, existing Deighton fan or not. It's easily gripping enough to finish in an afternoon.
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on 17 December 2013
Also released as 'To Catch a Falling Spy' this is my first book by the author. Set during the cold war we are introduced to the world of American and Soviet double agents, no one can be trusted and no situation is as it seems. We follow an unnamed British agent and Major Man as they pick up a defected soviet Russian scientist from the desert but can they keep the promises made and has he been entirely truthful?

A thriller with plenty of action and numerous subplots using well developed characters, the kind of book where you have to follow the storyline carefully to fully understand what is going on. Recommended for fans Of jack Higgins or Ian Fleming, it has dated a little over the years but still stands the test of time. Will look out for more Deighton books.
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on 22 August 2013
Another book which in todays gadget mad world was written of it's time but is now a good read as both history and an excellent spy stotry. Having just come back to Deighton after a long time away I have a lot to go at and feel comfortable that I have a good chioce for the future.
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on 10 August 2014
Maybe not his best but flashes of the Deighton wit from time to time. The "Harry Palmer" type character is somewhat secondary here.Could have made a good film. (But remember "Billion Dollar Brain"!)
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on 31 January 2015
Always been a big fan of, Deighton, so I read and enjoyed this book. But of all his books I recommend, Winter.
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on 7 July 2013
The last (I think) in the unnamed spy/Harry Palmer series. This time round our spy is working with the CIA in New York and is trying to get a Soviet scientist to defect. But it's never that straightforward and many other parties are interested in the state of affairs.

I think this is the weakest of this line of books. The protagonist is seemingly on secondment in the US and playing second fidle to his CIA counterpart. I guess it for those sort of reasons it appears to be a bit more "Bond", whereas the IPCRESS-era spy is very much a bit more down to earth.
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on 24 April 2016
What can I say....Len Deighton is one of the best story tellers around
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on 17 November 2015
Another good and entertaining book from a great auther
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on 22 July 2014
Excellent, Len Deighton at his best.
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