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on 29 April 2008
HOOK and LINE are both good spy thrillers in their own right, even if their overarching effect is to ruin the story that GAME SET and MATCH told so well by revealing that...well, read them and see. SPY SINKER is a different animal altogether. Deighton drops the first-person Bernard Samson point of view to retell the entire story from Berlin Game onwards from an omniscient angle. It is, therefore, a) dull, because we know everything which is going to happen anyway, only it was actually exciting the first time, and b) a redundant exercise in tying up loose ends and trying to explain away some of the more far-fetched consequences of HOOK and LINE (one character we thought was speaking in an earlier book, it is revealed, was actually impersonated by someone else (who we never met) who was good at mimicking voices. Right.) What is more, without the plot to keep you distracted, and with the best characters such as Bernard Samson and Dicky Cruyer written into the background, it is only in Spy Sinker that you notice what a rotten writer of prose Deighton is, and most of the funniest lines come when he thinks his way into Fiona's head: "he made her feel deeply feminine in a way she had never experienced before" (p122). Of course the real joke on the whole intelligence community was that when the Wall came down, noone, not even the CIA or SIS actually expected it. This would have been a sweet irony to end the series on, but Deighton tries to use his new vantage point of hindsight to make it look as if British Intelligence planned it all along. Nice try. That could be the perfect metaphor for Spy Sinker: a poor attempt to rewrite history that fails to convince.
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on 25 April 2013
This 6th and final part of the trilogy "Hook, Line and Sinker" marks Len Deighton (LD)'s second series about spy couple-with-children Bernard and Fiona Samson. Key facts are withheld in this review about what went on before. All nine books of LDs 3 trilogies (and "Winter: a Berlin Family, 1899-1945" written after the first trilogy) can be read as stand-alone spy fictions. Reading them in sequence does add value.

"Spy Sinker" is basically a 'prequel' going back to 1977 when plans were first made to place an agent inside the Kremlin or its next best alternative, East Berlin. Doing so would take many years of careful preparations with only two or three very senior people fully in the know. LD used the prequel-format also for some reverse engineering, adding new dimensions and angles, secrets even to the series' main protagonists. Fiona and Bret Rensselaer are highlighted in particular, but LD also makes clever, brief and new allusions to minor events and -actors in the series. SS ends in 1987, and has intriguing clues for the final trilogy "Faith, Hope and Charity". The back cover of my copy lauded this volume as LDs best. Not true. It is an amusing, but somewhat superfluous rehash with too much psychology.
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on 24 August 2012
When I read Spysinker I could not help comparing the Fiona in Spysinker to the Fiona in G,S,& Match,They seem to be two totaly different women.When she transforms from Bernard's ever loving to the arrogant KGB colonel her scornful attitude seem's far too real for just her cover as a double agent, it seems genuine,At the KGB headquarters she taunts Bernard with her new found authority over him and ridcules him about no longer having a wife,no children,no home,not knowing at the time she she failed to grab her kids when she defected,Also in London Match when she is arguing with Bernard over custody of the children,She pleads with him to let her have the only children she will ever have where Bernard could always re-marry and have more children,Fiona's desire to have her children with her seem's all to real, This is the talk of a woman turning her back on her old life, No double agent would bring her kids to the very country she is spying on,if Fiona was ever caught as a British spy the retribution could fall on the kids as well as Fiona if the communists are as vindictive as Bernard says they are so Fiona's defection must be genuine,Everything about Fiona to Bernard is farewell and goodbye forever,Is this the same Fiona that told Brett Rensselar in Spysinker she would only do two years as a spy then come home?.
Compare that to the Fiona in Spysinker, No arrogance,low profile, deferential to everybody even to Moskvin and even her secretary Hubert Renn is seen as a father figure,Her depression at being seperated From Bernard and the kids and how desperately she wants to be with them again A far cry from goodbye forever Bernard in London Match and her account of her confrontation with Bernard at the KGB prison is a lot less abrasive than Bernard's and her argument with Bernard over custody of the children is completely glossed over in Spysinker
It's unusual to write five books then write a sixth one to explain the first five and I believe that it is a belated attempt by Len Deighton to rewrite G, S,&M to portray Fiona's character from despised traitor to patriotic heroin,Zero to Hero in fact.
If I am wrong about this I can only put it down to Len Deighton's inability to write a consistent storyline about Fiona's character,Typical of this is Rudi Kleindorf dying in Spyline then coming back from the dead with no rational explanation in Charity.
Brian Cooper
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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 have been pretty meaning less.
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on 2 May 2011
A very satisfying retelling of the events in the Samson series (i.e. Berlin Game through to Spy Line) but this time not limited to Samson's perspective. Events that you will have seen in the other books will take on new meaning now from a new perspective. Strangely, you do have the desire to re-read the other books in the series now that you have the big picture.

Definitely, definitely not dull if you love cold war spy fiction - the surprises don't from a surprise ending (as the book ends in much the same place as Spy Line) but in understanding that was behind key events in the series.
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on 15 April 2014
Written in Len Deighton's usual flowing easy style the trilogy of books are an excellent read and I would recomend them. However I disagree with the author that you can read each book as an independant novel. Well, ok, you can, but too many things would not make sense or add up until you've read all three, particularly the last one (Sinker) which returns to the start of the story and sets the scene for what came next. You could almost read Sinker first. Much as I enjoyed the series, I felt a little cheated that I had to buy three books to get what is effectively one story.
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on 9 June 2011
I have just finished GSM, Winter and HLS in that order, and found them all to be excellently written except this last. The point of this book seems to be to clear up what was really happening behind the scenes, when a large part of the mystique of the Samson novels was the uncertainty as seen from Bernard's perspective surrounding events as they unfolded. This book drags all the boring cardboard characters centre stage and forces us to listen to their mundane inner thoughts and feelings. All for the purpose of explaining things that are better left to the reader's imagination.

I could imagine this book being a petty attempt to cash in on the success of the other books were it not the third in a trilogy, and therefore planned from the start. This is a failed pointless experiment in creative writing. It should not have been attempted, and it detracts from the other excellent books in the series.

Feeling charitable, I just hope FHC restores my faith in this series.
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on 15 December 2013
The sixth book out of 9 about the SIS and Bernard Samson. This one is based on his wife's (Fiona) perspective so a very interesting replay of some of the events to date. Brilliantly and sparsely written with descriptive interludes. The main characters develop as does the plot. Berlin, London and the cold war activities seem shocking although very credible but who knows?

The quality of my second hand copy was excellent as was the price and service.
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on 5 August 2014
A great follow on to the Game, Set & Match trilogy - a realistic and gripping spy story. The characters are believable and down to earth and the story is set in the midst of major political change towards the end of the Cold War. You really understand that espionage is a dirty and dangerous business. Len Deighton is a superb writer - one of my favourite ever stories.
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on 26 October 2014
I've loved all the Bernie Samson books so far. This book covers everything that has already happened from a different viewpoint than that of bernard's. So, in someways it was fascinating to 'see behind the scenes' as it were, but in other ways I felt slightly cheated as the story has already been told. Will continue with 'Faith' though.
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