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on 13 April 2017
Not his best
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on 7 June 2012
The title's Yesterday's Spy is Steve Champion, a WW2 hero for work with the French Resistance, now prosperous but apparently up to no good. British Intelligence sends his war era deputy to find out what he is after - and back to the French people and places of their war time past. And off we go...glamorous women, betrayals, gunmen and all.

This book is a break from both Deighton's anonymous hero of his early books (played as Harry Palmer by Michael Caine in the classic films) and their Cold War setting. But it has Deighton's typical twists and turns and sharp dialogue, which are always a pleasure.

As a Deighton fan, I found it not as good as Funeral in Berlin, Horse Under Water etc. The characters were a little cardboard, some plot 70's kitsch, and I missed the Harry Palmer trick of never knowing who was on who's side. But still a good, fun and easy read.
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on 13 November 2015
A reasonable plot, which may make a better TV 'screen play' than a novel ; I am a huge Len Deighton fan, and have read some novels several times, but this book did not enthral me in the way some others did.

Narrated in the first person, a technique that works well in Deighton's books, we read about W.O.O.C.(P) operative 'Charlie', who is tasked to investigate the former leader of his WW2 Resistance Cell, now suspected of dealing with 'the opposition'.

The attempt to introduce a new 'boss' (American Colonel Schlegel) alongside, but mainly replacing, Dawlish did not really add anything to the book for me.

The 1970's setting is, again, a refreshing change from all the more modern, 'high-tec', spy novels that we are getting today ; Descriptions of 1970's Nice and Marseilles add an interesting back-drop to the story.

Deighton never made it clear in his early spy novels whether the cunning, but down-to-earth, main character was meant to be the same person ; They all work for the same government department (W.O.O.C.-P), and boss Dawlish features in most, but the character of 'Harry Palmer' played so well by (Sir) Michael Caine in the three films was generally not given a name in the books.

In Yesterday's Spy the main character is referred to as 'Charlie', but it is not clear if this is meant to be his real name, or possibly a WW2 code-name by which he was known while operating in France, and by which the French cast of this book already know him.

Certainly worth reading, especially for readers who are already fans of Len Deighton's novels, but not quite the attention grabber as some of his other books.
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on 7 July 2013
I'm a bit of dilemma about this book. Whilst the protagonist's boss is the same as the previous novel (Spy Story), his WW2 back story almost seems to be at odds with what we know about the unnamed spy/Harry Palmer from IPCRESS at all. So whilst I'd like to think that it's the same character, I'm not sure that it really is.

This time round our favourite spy is called upon to invistigate the reappearence of a WW2 French resistance colleage who has started to arouse suspiscion within his old employers. He's up to something, but what it is no-one really knows.
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on 22 September 2013
In his intro, Deighton says he tries a new technique in the writing. Sadly, it does not come off and it lacks the classic tautness of his other spy novels. There's a sense of laziness in the writing - was Deighton living in the south of France when he wrote this one. Still worth reading all the same for Deighton fans
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on 17 February 2014
Maybe it is because I returned to Deighton after many years apart and my memories are of the earlier book with engaging plots, sardonic humour and barbed dialogue of the Ipcress file and Funeral in Berlin.
Yesterday's Spy does not hang together as well as previous novels and I was trying to feel and understand the new place that is the world of the nameless Harry Palmer. I struggled to relate to his new context and role and relationships. The plot rather jumped from place to place - I kept saying to myself "mind the gap" in the way of a tube station announcement rather than admiring the seamless flow of the story.
But it is Len Deighton so as a lifelong fan I read, indeed revisited this book and at the end was happy I had not wasted my time and had smiled at some of the pithy one liners and acerbic wit offered up in this book
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on 28 January 2015
I first this when it first came out. Spending a weekend in Nice and passing through Villefranche, I remembered it being set there and thought I'd give it another try. It is still a good read, recent events in France and the sight of heavily armed troops patrolling outside Nice Ville Station, made it's theme seem rather relevant for today. Cynicism and betrayal, arms dealing, terrorism and a South of France setting make it a different sort of Deighton. I think its one of his better ones. Years ago, I would have thought how could these 50 something spies and ex spies still be doing it , these days I think I got more out of it. Well worth a read or revisiting if not read for a while
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on 7 May 2013
Just when I thought I hadead all the Len Deighton books, another new Oldie pops up! Othrer deighton fans should check their shelves for this one and buy if its not already there.
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on 27 September 2014
I love 1960's-1970's Len Deighton spy novels prior to the Bernard Samson soap opera. Yesterday's Spy is probably one of the weakest. which as all Deighton fans know still makes it 70% better than any other spy novel by someone else. The plot premise is a interesting idea, but never really delivers for me. It lacks the frantic excitement and improvised madness I love Deighton's books for.

It's not that Yesterdays Spy is a bad book it's just no where near as interesting or as cool as the work that preceded it and came after it.
Very much like "An Expensive place to die." It's a B side.
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on 31 March 2013
Not the best Deighton book I have read - very "Bity". Perhaps I did not understand it but will read again
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