Yesterday's Spy Author:Len Deighton The book's narrator Charley (work name during WW II Charles Bonnard), was a very young SIS agent when he was dropped by submarine on the south coast of France. His brief was to make contact with the Communists, the only French deemed reliable at the time, and build a network of spies and helpers. Miraculously, the network survived until the end ... more »of the war, except for the French priest Marius, its leader, who was betrayed and killed by the Gestapo.
Times are turbulent in the early 1970s. The third Arab-Israeli war, the oil embargo, Olympic athletes killed and airplanes hijacked. Oil-rich Arab countries are expected to become rich beyond imagination.
Some 25 years later, the surviving members of the network are gravitating towards Nice. Not as a reunion party, but because of the career choices of some of its former members, who have kept a weary eye on each other ever since the war ended. When one former member of the wartime spy network is rumoured to help, and is perhaps already busy providing Arab countries with what they cherish most, powerful weapons, perhaps the ultimate one, Charley is ordered to investigate and insinuate his way into one of his former spy colleagues' new life and entourage...
This is a brilliantly plotted spy novel, which has not aged over time. Len Deighton (LD) has created a remarkable cast of people, including an abrasive US colonel who was involved with the WW II network, a former Gestapo investigator of the network turned spy for West Germany, the betrayed Marius' two sisters and the Jewish, Communist person whom Charley approached first in 1941.
Creating characters like Charley was LD's challenge to the credibility of the best known spies of the era, George Smiley and James Bond. Charley is working class, resourceful, weary and respects no one. His accent is that of Burnley, UK. He can pass for a bum or a successful businessman. He lives in bed-sits and chaotic flats.
Authentic background, great characters, good plot. But who betrayed Marius?
Finally, LD has written some 40 volumes of highly acclaimed fiction and faction about espionage and warfare. His WW II books are unsurpassed, e.g. SS/GB about the German occupation of GB.
A brilliant novel about espionage, treachery, murder and friendship. Although written during the early 1970s, the plot could be from contemporary newspaper stories about Arab terrorist groups. Plus, there are more twists and turns than roads from the Italian Alps into Switzerland. I do not want to spoil your read, so all I will say is disregard the clues because nothing is as appears. Also, you will never guess the ending. So, just enjoy this tremendous novel.
Steve Champion, a former British intelligence agent and leader of the World War II "Guernica Network", an old Villefranche anti-Nazi intelligence group, is living in the south of France. Allegedly, Steve is retired and simply an avid stamp collector.
But, MI-6, the British foreign intelligence service, thinks Steve is secretly involved with Arab groups seeking to obtain nuclear weapons; and, an agent infiltrated into Champion's inner circle is missing. The only solution is to activate Charlie, one of Champion's wartime friends. Sounds easy except Charlie is not told the entire story and has to operate in the proverbial dark.
Excellent plotting, pacing, character development, settings, dialogue, etc, etc. Absolutely fascinating. Len Deighton at his best.« less