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The Ipcress File Mass Market Paperback – March 12, 1974
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|Mass Market Paperback, March 12, 1974||
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'A spy story with a difference.' Observer 'A master of fictional espionage.' Daily Mail 'The poet of the spy story.' Sunday Times 'The Ipcress File helped change the shape of the espionage thriller...the prose is still as crisp and fresh as ever...there is an infectious energy about this book which makes it a joy to read, or re-read.' Daily Telegraph 'The self-conscious cool of Deighton's writing has dated in the best way possible...a stone-cold cold war classic.' Guardian 'Deighton is so far in the front of other writers in the field that they are not even in sight' Sunday Times 'Nobody now seriously doubts that Deighton is the most credible of all the spysmiths' The Scotsman 'Regarded as the cold war spy thriller that made all subsequent examples of the genre possible...however much of a classic the film is, the book is a completely different proposition. It's more intricate and far superior...a must for anyone who likes this kind of fiction.' Loaded --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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"A dazzling performance . . . A remarkable talent." The New York Times Book Review
What must a lone spy do to survive? The classic spy story that reinvigorated a whole genre! --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
George Orwell once noted that Dickens's books are always packed with purposeless detail. Cheeses can't be just "cheeses": they have to be "Gloucester cheeses". His fictional world is very particular, very specific. In the same way, when you get to know Deighton, you are not surprised when his hero stops off at a delicatessen to buy a pound of - no, not just "butter", but "Normandy butter" - and when it goes soft in his pocket before he makes it home, we realize that this hero is a million miles from James Bond.
Departing from the usual profile, Deighton's novels are character-based rather than action-based, and that's both a strength and a weakness. There are any number of slick, factory-produced thrillers around, but a Len Deighton thriller is a hand-made product. The edges are not quite straight, it wobbles when you try to stand it upright, and the doors don't quite fit.
Those who look for a perfect solution to a clearly-stated puzzle should look elsewhere. What we get from Len Deighton is the kind of character-drawing that is traditionally the weakest element in popular thrillers. His descriptions are always arresting and invariably witty. Colonel Ross is described as having "the complexion of a Hovis loaf", and those who have seen a Hovis loaf will recognize the aptness of the image: that of a florid military type who is a little too fond of the bottle. He is also described as a gentleman - which Deighton defines as someone who never drinks gin before 7.30 p.m. and wouldn't hit a lady without first taking his hat off.
If you like that sort of thing, you'll like Len Deighton. He is the Charles Dickens of thriller writers, with the same faults and the same virtues. And The Ipcress File is replete with both. Deighton's shaky and approximate plotting is more than offset by his observant eye for the endless varieties of human strangeness.
Just one thing, though. Deighton is someone who doesn't just write, he re-writes. The care with which he crafts his prose is somehow evident on the page in the look of the sentences and paragraphs. He is a writer, and you should be a reader. So, my advice: forget the cassette. Go for the book.
This was the first of the so-called "Harry Palmer" books which was the name given to his fictional hero when the movies came out. Although this isn't the best Len Deighton book (I reserve that praise for "Funeral in Berlin") it is still a splendid piece of work. Deighton's use of language although slightly tiring sometimes is still a pleasure to read. His witty comments about the characters in the book is a real treat. He is probably the funniest writer in spy fiction and definetely one of the funniest writers around.
When Mr. Deighton wrote this book, the James Bond craze was going on, but people began to appreciate "Harry Palmer" and to them was an alternative to James Bond. "Palmer" is not smooth, suave, rich(he often spends half of his day pouring over his bills), or particularly handsome. But what he is not, he more than makes up for in his talent, ability and cunning.
The tale is one of disappearing scientists, going over(or is being kidnapped and thrown over) the other side of the Berlin Wall. An unnamed middle-class spy("Palmer") having been transferred to a department called WOOC(P) is put on the case along with his colleagues from WOOC(P) who are small in number. The disappearances are linked with a man code-named Jay. "Palmer"'s adventure starts of very excitingly but you may think that it loses steam mid-way. It does not.
I reccomend this only to readers with patience and a good memory. You may feel bored mid-way through the book and might decide to give it up. Don't. There is more coming up. Don't lose faith or hope. Have faith in Deighton and let him guide you through it. You will not be disapponted.
At the end of the book, to understand what has happened you must recall a few of what you may feel are minor incidents and this is where good memory steps into the equation.
"Palmer" may seem very ordinary and boring but you will only see his intelligence and remarkable talent later on.
It may feel as if the book is just going down a deep bottomless pit, in that you may find it a very large bore and will want to give it up. Don't. This is simply Deighton letting the book mature. And then all of a sudden BANG! there is a big supermassive explosion and you find yourself hooked and compelled to go onto the next page.
I highly rate this book. Read it with full attention right 'til the end and you will not regret. What seems to be inconsequential may be a turning point, so pay attention!
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