Wednesday, April 20, 2016

BERLIN GAME by Len Deighton

Finished We 4/20/16     Marijuana Day

This is the first in the trilogy and I got it from the library. The second book was in my collection, but the final episode is not owned by me or the library. I might get it from Amazon.

Link to wikipedia-

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Finished Th 4/14/16

The author died a few weeks ago and I noticed this paperback on one of my shelves.

 The novel is less plot driven but more a series of very insightful vignettes.

Well written and I loved the book. The movie is highly rated (I know I must have seen it) and it's in the Netflix queue.

link to wikipedia-

Pat Conroy's link at wikipedia-

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

MEXICO SET by Len Deighton

Finished We 4/6/16 after $35 visit from Dick Van Dyke to unlock the rangetop.

This was one of my unread paperbacks and similar to the tone of the 'John Le Carre Spy World', and, obviously the very antithesis of the world of James Bond.

Samson is a government employee looking for a career and a pension who just happens to be the cleverest person working in British intelligence. (That's what a reviewer wrote of Samson, and I'd say that's pretty accurate).

From Amazon-

"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".

This is the second in the Bernard Samson trilogy (BERLIN GAME, MEXICO SET, LONDON MATCH). In the first book, Samson's wife has defected to Russia and becomes one of the highest ranking members of their intelligence operation. They have two young children and she left them behind when she fled.

Erich Stinnes is a KGB major and Bernard's opposite number in the west. Erich is run by Samson's wife, Fiona- he's her second in command.

From a review on Amazon that sums up the plot-

"Samson, a professional MI-6 field operative, is devastated by the defection of his wife, Fiona, to the other side. Read KGB. Read the evil empire. To all that ask him 'if he still loves her' he denies he does. But Mr. Deighton leaves any number of clues for his readers to make us know that at best, it's just false bravado.
Handicapped somewhat emotionally by the strain of realizing that their whole marriage, the children, the shared experiences was but a stage she played upon, Bernard must also face the onslaught of accusatory hearings from his employers at London Central, the 'desk men' lacking any field experience where hard men do the hard things that he hates so much.
We see the old characters Frank Harrington, the Iago-like Dicky, the self serving Bret Rensselaer, and his close friend for life Werner Volkmann and Volkmann's straying wife, Zena.
Deighton's humor is subtle and droll. When faced with a dilemma Dicky says "Muy BLOODY complicado," Bernard thinks 'that's only because he doesn't understand.'
Blood is spilt, sometimes innocent blood, sometimes not so innocent. Bernard is loyal, confused, older, tripped up by forces that should be aiding him but who have their own agendas. Erich Stinnes, the KGB officer who interrogated him in East Berlin says to him, "I hate deskmen." Samson replies "Me too. They're bloody dangerous."
Excellent read about the life and death struggles of the alphabet agencies of the 70's and 80's. You don't have to read Berlin Game first but it helps".

I really enjoyed the novel and I will probably buy BERLIN GAME.

Author's page at wikipedia-

Saturday, April 2, 2016


Finished With It- Sa 4/2/16

I started this about ten days ago, and reluctantly struggled to the end. I had it on reserve for a very long time, and the reviews with ecstatic.....but I was massively unimpressed.

The setup is that the author and his mother are at a book reading in a shopping center.

"... theoretically reading from his autobiography in the empty food court of a mall deserted because of flash-flood warnings. The only audience members are his mother and two restaurant workers who insist they’re not there to listen to Leyner — not that they have much choice".

His mother's name is Muriel, and she's

"Coordinating Director of the NonFiction at the Food Court Reading Services at Wood Creek Plaza Mall".

Two Panda Express workers are on a smoke break and barely pay any attention to what Mark Leyner or his mother have to say. I agree with the Panda Express employees.
The book’s main surreal touch is the Imaginary Intern, a figure the fictional Leyner conjures from the pattern of cracks in a restroom’s floor tiles.

Odd flights of fancy and supposed insight that really didn't interest me.

I don't understand what all of the media raves were about. I didn't like it much at all.

Link at amazon-

Chicago Tribune Review (and, I don't think they were that wile about it either)

NY Times review-