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London Match by Len Deighton

London Match (original 1985; edition 1985)

by Len Deighton

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699813,584 (3.81)19
Title:London Match
Authors:Len Deighton
Info:Trafalgar Square (1985), Edition: 1St Edition, Hardcover, 432 pages
Collections:Your library

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London Match by Len Deighton (1985)

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The final book in the Game Set & Match trilogy, in which Bernard Samson helps capture a KGB courier using information from former KGB major Erich Stinnes – whom Samson convinced to defect in the previous book. But the courier’s confession implies that there is another KGB mole in London Central – which is bad news for Samson, whose loyalty has been questioned since his wife turned out to be a KGB mole herself. Now he must find out who the mole is – or if the courier is lying. Deighton delivers a very good spy yarn that makes the most of the chief problem of the espionage business: never knowing for sure just who is on whose side, and who is telling the truth. London Match gets a bit too bogged down by the domestic lives of the characters – everyone seems to be having affairs with someone else and expecting Bernard to deal with it – and it gets a little tedious for the likes of me. But the twists and turns of the espionage angle more than make up for it. ( )
  Hanneri | Jul 20, 2015 |
Perhaps I shouldn’t have read this trilogy one book after the other as it was a bit like guzzling a box of chocolates or watching a whole season of something like ‘Man Men’ over a couple of nights. What Deighton managed well, though, was to avoid repetition between the books. Characters introduced in the previous two novels were only very briefly accounted for although I did find repetition within this final one in the series. I felt Berlin and its history was given a bit too much prominence and Gloria didn’t really develop beyond a rather one-dimensional character and her love for Samson was a bit Bond-girl-like in her adulation of the man twice her age.

While there may have been some parts I found a bit flat, there was again the lifting bits, whether the self-mockery found in Samson’s reply to George’s statement that Mozart led a terrible life: ‘I’d heard rumours’. This is followed a page or two later with rumination about what attracts women to men: ‘women were always attracted by purposeful masculine strength, organizing ability, and the sort of self-confidence that leaves everything unsaid’. Of course this is quite a sweeping statement but I like the way Leighton gives the reader something to think about. That’s why describing this trilogy as simply spy novels really understates the breadth of what Deighton achieves.

Having said that, though, I think it would have been stronger if pared down a little. Sampson comes up with the theory that Bret might be working for the KGB early on and it’s much later that this comes from the hierarchy so that it felt as if it had just been hovering there stationary for quite a while although, of course, a lot of the book emanates from the possibility of there being yet another KGB plant in England. ( )
  evening | Mar 31, 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 |
The third book in the trilogy, is one is probably the most suspenseful. It is also the one in which the hero is the most conflicted. He is finally dealing with the betrayal of his wife on two levels. Her betrayal of her country and values, and her betrayal of him. Like most spy novels, Samson finds solace for the personal betrayal in the arms of a much younger woman, a affair for which he has very ambivalent feelings, and not a little guilt. The other betrayal, of the Company and the Western values, he finds much harder to deal with, and his confusion about, and emotional ties to, various bumbling bureaucrats in charge causes as much confusion in his life as has the defection of his wife.

This series of spy novels is unusual in that, most of the action is the emotional reactions, and actions, of the hero, Bernard Samson, and not in the maneuverings and politics, although there is plenty of that, of the spy world. This won't be my last Len Deighton novel.

I read these books because they have been reissued in digital format for the Nook. (the Barnes & Noble e-reader) Issuing these in this format should open up these stories to a whole new audience of readers. I hope they enjoy them as much as I did. ( )
  benitastrnad | Feb 25, 2012 |
Of the three books in the trilogy, this one was the hardest to put down. It was suspenseful, with twists and turns everywhere. As new complications arose, I could feel the world closing in on Samson, and as the last few chapters unfolded, I plowed along recklessly with him, heart in my throat, unsure of how it would all play out.

To be honest, I probably read the end of it *too* quickly, because I feel as if I missed a couple of things in my rush to find out how it ended. I shall keep this review spoiler-free, but suffice to say the ending was neat enough to resolve most plot threads while leaving a few dangling, just as it goes in life.

One thing I really liked about the series was that I was able to leave a one-month gap or so between books and still have some idea of what was going on when I returned. Most trilogy writers probably tend to do that, but it's especially a blessing in espionage works where the plots can become insanely complicated. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Mar 13, 2011 |
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"Cheer up, Werner."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0586066357, Paperback)

Long-awaited reissue of the final part of the classic spy trilogy, GAME, SET and MATCH, when the Berlin Wall divided not just a city but a world. The spy who's in the clear doesn't exist! Bernard Samson hoped they'd put Elvira Miller behind bars. She said she had been stupid, but it didn't cut any ice with Bernard. She was a KGB-trained agent and stupidity was no excuse. There was one troubling thing about Mrs Miller's confession - something about two codewords where there should have been one. The finger of suspicion pointed straight back to London. And that was where defector Erich Stinnes was locked up, refusing to say anything. Bernard had got him to London; now he had to get him to talk!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:36 -0400)

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In the sequel to Mexico Set, Bernard Samson finds himself suspected as the second Soviet informer in British intelligence.

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