The Reading Room

Game, Set and Match

Praise be once again to Penguin for their latest rereleases. This time it’s the turn of the legendary spy author Len Deighton to get the Penguin Modern Classics treatment and they certainly do not disappoint. The covers are a lesson in understanding subject matter.

Starting with Berlin Game, the first in a nine-part series featuring the remarkably unremarkable Bernard Samson as the middle aged ex-Berlin spy and his high-flying wife in MI5, Fiona, the author created a masterpiece in the espionage genre. For me, this trilogy of Berlin Game, Mexico Set and London Match are unrivalled except for Le Carre’s original Smiley trilogy, they are that good. Very few can match the author’s skill at dialogue, his use of clever sarcasm and wit throughout his many books from the early sixties onwards set him apart and reinforced our ideas of how a downtrodden ageing spy would conduct themselves in a changing world in which they were fast becoming persona non grata

What Penguin have managed to achieve is a real eye-catching set of reprints, each of which have covers which perfectly capture the essence of each book. Coming on the back of renewed Deighton interest following the BBC serialisation of his World War Two novel, SS-GB these are a welcome reminder of an author, now in his mid-nineties who gave us the books which inspired Michael Caine’s greatest screen character, Harry Palmer. Deighton never truly received the credit he deserved, his books sold in large numbers but this trilogy warrants far greater critical acclaim. If you are new to his work or indeed, spy fiction then these are a wonderful starting point. Kudos to Penguin for keeping the legend alive with these perfect modern/retro covers.

Categories: The Reading Room

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