Mexico Set by Len Deighton (1984)

‘That bloody Werner has been seeing Stinnes,’ said Dicky. He was pacing up and down chewing at the nail of his little finger. It was a sign that he was agitated. He was often agitated lately. Sometimes I wondered that Dicky had any nails left. ‘So I hear,’ I said calmly. ‘Ah,’ said Dicky. ‘I […]

Berlin Game by Len Deighton (1983)

I’d been trying to read other people’s minds for most of my life. It could be a dangerous task. Just as a physician might succumb to hypochondria, a policeman to graft, or a priest to materialism, so I knew that I studied too closely the behaviour of those close to me. Suspicion went with the […]

Goodbye, Mickey Mouse by Len Deighton (1982)

The throttle was against the fire wall; emergency power. Dive steeper, and steeper still. The white airspeed needle chased round the clock. Faster – 350, 400, 450 – the white needle caught up with the slower red danger line and Farebrother knew that his airframe was in jeopardy as he used all his strength to […]

Fighter: The True Story of the Battle of Britain by Len Deighton (1977)

For new pilots the high-altitude battles could be a frightening experience. It was very, very cold at 25,000 feet, and the Spitfires slipped and skidded through the thin air, as the propeller blades failed to bite. Invariably the Perspex misted over and reduced visibility. Only slowly did the aircraft add a few hundred feet, and […]

Blitzkrieg: From the Rise of Hitler to the Fall of Dunkirk by Len Deighton (1979)

Blitzkriek does what it says on the cover – gives a swift account of the rise of Hitler to power, then skates quickly over the years of crisis which led up to the start of World War Two, in order to focus on what really fascinates Len, the theory and practice of Blitzkrieg itself, and […]

XPD by Len Deighton (1981)

XPD combines three areas of Deighton’s expertise – World War Two history, spy fiction and the world of Hollywood movies. It’s a long novel – 431 pages – and interesting and convoluted enough, but nowhere really gripping. Deighton takes the decision to explain what it’s ‘about’ in the first few pages, and shows us all […]

SS-GB by Len Deighton (1978)

A gripping, thrilling and powerful alternative history, depicting what happens to Britain when it is defeated by the Nazis – making a sort of trilogy with Kingsley Amis’s Russian Hide-And-Seek (1980) and Robert Harris’s Fatherland (1992). SS-GB In this alternative universe, Hitler successfully carried out Operation Sealion, a sea-borne invasion of England, their unstoppable Army fighting […]

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Spy by Len Deighton (1976)

I should have obeyed orders. I didn’t, and what happened subsequently was all my fault. I don’t mean that I could have influenced events, it was far too late for that, but I could have protected myself from the horror of it. (p.183) All Deighton’s narrators wear glasses, presumably a jokey reference to the author’s […]

Yesterday’s Spy by Len Deighton (1975)

I looked at him for a long time. ‘The days of the entrepreneur are over, Steve,’ I told him. ‘Now it’s the organisation man that gets the Christmas bonus and the mileage allowance. People like you are just called “heroes”, and don’t mistake it for a compliment. It just means has-beens, who’d rather have a […]

Spy Story by Len Deighton (1974)

Dawlish collected my empty cup. ‘Oh, for God’s sake, Pat! You’re dripping blood all over the carpet.’ ‘It won’t show,’ I said. ‘Not in that lovely humming bird pattern.’ (p.193) Hooray! The anonymous protagonist of Deighton’s Ipcress novels is back! We know (well, suspect) this because the narrator recognises jovial, plump Soviet agent, Colonel Stok […]