Top critical review
on 23 June 2017
Was a Deighton fan from the off. His Sixties’ novels were the antidote to the implausible Bond fantasies, a sharper, smarter and more complex read. Perhaps I was beginning to realise the Swinging Sixties was a myth when Billion Dollar Brain was pblished because its exotic plot and over-the-top villain didn’t chime. Deighton had lost it. Forty years later idle curiosity drew me to “An Expensive Place To Die.” Had I been wrong? And the set up reads like Deighton himself had realized too that he need to get back to what he was good at, spinning a plot around the daily grind of intelligence gathering. This time he transplantes his anonymous hero to Paris where he stumbles onto something of significance to the Cold War’s espionage services. For me ‘Die” doesn’t have the fluidity nor the intrigue that had me turning the page in ‘File’, ‘Funeral’ and ‘Horse’. The intrigue is there. The cynical wit is there. The characters are believable. But Deighton’s soufflé doesn’t rise. Yes, I bought his ’65 Action Cookbook. I was a fan. ‘Die’ is not a disgrace. It’s just not a return to form.