When a number of scientists mysteriously disappear in Berlin, what seems to be a straightforward case rapidly becomes a journey to the heart of a dark and deadly conspiracy. It is a conspiracy that takes Len Deighton's working-class hero on a journey that will test him to the limits of his ingenuity and resolve, and call on him to prove himself as a spy at the very top of his game.
'A STONE COLD, COLD WAR CLASSIC' - THE GUARDIAN
A book I mostly enjoyed but not as much as I had hoped to. The plot was a bit of a mess IMO, and what started out as an interesting premise, kind of fell by the wayside and morphed into something else.
I liked the unnamed protagonist and hero at the centre of the story. I enjoyed his interactions with his fellow British agents and support team. There's a wry humour in some of the exchanges with Alice and Jean. The salary of a British intelligence agent obviously isn't that great and our man is constantly trying to secure backpay and outstanding expenses from his boss.
There is plenty of action along the way here, at home and abroad with lots of danger for our man and like most espionage tales there's a question mark over people's true motives and trustworthiness which kept me (and our man) guessing.
Everything ties up at the end and makes sense, but I guess I must have missed something that The Guardian spotted. Enjoyable, but not up with the very best of Cold War fiction. Not that it has put me off hopefully reading more from this series in 2023.At some point I also hope to watch the film version with Michael Caine and the recent TV adaptation. Maybe they will prove a tad more satisfying.
3 stars from 5
Declarations Of War is my only previous encounter with Deighton's work, back in 2012. My only memory relating to that was it was a bit of a drag.
Read - December, 2022
Published - 1962
Page count - 368
Source - owned copy
Format - Paperback