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Mexico Set by Len Deighton

Mexico Set (1984)

by Len Deighton

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After the defection of his wife Bernard Sampson is left to prove that he is a loyal, company man. The way he is supposed to do this is by persuading a senior KGB agent to defect. The agent is spotted in Mexico City and Bernard plus colleague is sent out there to start the process of enrolment. Although Bernard grew up in Berlin and lives in London he is not particularly cosmopolitan. Len Deighton does an excellent job of having him reflect the typical English bloke of the time who doesn't like travel, foreigners or foreign food very much. He also does an excellent job of describing office politics and all the jockeying for position that goes on. Bernard clearly does not like many of his colleagues who have spent their working lives behind desk rather than in the field. I can sympathise, I recognise many of the characters from my working life and appreciate just how deadly a game it can be.

This is the middle book in a trilogy and very much feels like it. Well worth the read but best read in the correct order. ( )
  Hanneri | May 26, 2015 |
Maybe I had too high expectations of this sequel to ‘Berlin Game’ having just really enjoyed that book. This one to me seemed to drift a bit at times although there were still captivating sequences and a good smattering of Leighton’s pithy humour. So, when it comes to an air-conditioner pumping out hot air in Mexico City, Werner explains the way it is to Samson: ‘It makes a lot of noise but doesn’t work very well. The Mexicans call them politicians’. I enjoyed little quips like this even if the deeper psychological aspects of ‘Berlin Game’ are replaced by the rather extravagant creation of Gloria and the equally extravagant development of Lena. Still, I thought the ending was well crafted, unpredictable to a large extent and quite satisfying. ( )
  evening | Mar 28, 2015 |
The trilogy - Berlin Game, Mexico Set, & London Match were first published in 1983 - 1985, only a generation ago, but they seem dated when read today. Apart from the obvious changes in technology - no mobile phones and no PCs - it is the smoking, the incessant drinking and the sexism that seem out of place.
Deighton's writing style seems more screenplay than novel. Just as a movie is often a distillation of the original novel, these books seem spare to a fault - nothing is included that is not needed for the plot. For example, when the hero's wife defects and leaves him with the children, the kids are not meetings for the next 100-odd pages, when their existence becomes important to the plot as a bargaining point.
I think that all Cold War era spy novels are inevitably compared with Le Carre books, and you can see the influence here. Deighton ties hard to be cerebral rather action-driven, but fails to be as convincing as Le Carre. But, interestingly, I found the flaws to lie in the action parts of the writing - the southeast seems comically inept, the spies drinking gallons of hard booze before, during and after field operations; the fact that there seems to be only 5 spores in MI6 etc etc.
But while there are minor quibbles, I enjoyed my trip back in time with Deighton and found the books hard to put down.
Read November 2013. ( )
  mbmackay | Nov 20, 2013 |
A rescued book, from the "Kantoorpaleis" Moem had to move out of. The books needed new homes, new readers and this one ended up with me. :-)
  BoekenTrol71 | Mar 31, 2013 |
This trilogy keeps getting better and better. In this book, the second in the series, Bernard Samson is still fighting the demons brought about by the desertion and defection of his wife. Not only has she deserted him but she has defected to the Russians and this casts doubts on all aspects of his life. His he a bad husband? a bad man? a bad spy? Then to top it off he is fighting the inter-Nicene plots and intrigues found within his own department. He not only has to deal with his self-doubts he has to deal with the dispersions cast on his loyalty that come from within his own department. He was married to a spy, mole, and a defector so how could he still be loyal to his country and comrades? To prove his loyalty he is sent out to convince his counterpart in East Germany to defect. The author has continued to explore issues of loyalty and the intersection of professional and personal life that makes for very cerebral reading. ( )
  benitastrnad | Dec 8, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Len Deightonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Settanni, GiuseppeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Some of these people want to get killed," said Dicky Cruyer as he jabbed the brake pedal to avoid hitting a newsboy.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0586058214, Paperback)

Long-awaited reissue of the second part of the classic spy trilogy, GAME, SET and MATCH, when the Berlin Wall divided not just a city but a world. A lot of people had plans for Bernard Samson...When they spotted Erich Stinnes in Mexico City, it was obvious that Bernard Samson was the right man to 'enrol' him. With his domestic life a shambles and his career heading towards disaster, Bernard needed to prove his reliability. and he knew Stinnes already - Bernard had been interrogated by him in East Berlin. But Bernard risks being entangled in a lethal web of old loyalties and old betrayals. All he knows for sure is that he has to get Erich Stinnes for London. Who's pulling the strings is another matter...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:44 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A lot of people had plans for Bernard Samson. When they spotted Erich Stinnes in Mexico City, it was obvious that Bernard Samson was the right man to 'enrol' him. With his domestic life a shambles and his career heading towards disaster, Bernard needed to prove his reliability.… (more)

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