London Match is the final book in the first of three trilogies (i.e. the third book out of a set of nine) which Len Deighton wrote featuring flawed MI6 man Bernard Samson.
As with the previous two books in the trilogy set during the Cold War of the 1980s, what keeps the plot going is not a long sequence of new events and shocks, but rather extra pieces of information which make Samson (and the reader) go back and doubt what they thought about previous events. It’s a constant niggling away at the same key questions, again and again – and a technique that adds a nice touch of doubt and paranoia as the frequency with which ‘settled’ questions of who is genuine and who is lying are reopened means you can never quite be sure what the truth is.
London Match rounds off the Game / Set / Match trilogy with all the main plot ends (apparently) resolved. Part of the genius of the sequel trilogy – Hook / Line / Sinker – is the way it manages subsequently to go back over some of the key issues from this first trilogy, reopening them and leaving characters (and the reader) regularly doubting where the truth lies. To set up future books so well whilst still giving readers who stop at this point a satisfying conclusion is rarely done, and Deighton deserves praise for his skill in being an exception.
If you’re looking for a printed version of the book, I rather prefer the 1980s paperback versions with their fruit-based covers for the Game / Set / Match trilogy to the cover artwork of the 21st century reissues. If you like audio books, then once again James Lailey does a cracking job which makes the audio version really enjoyable.
If you like this, you might also be interested in The Defection of AJ Lewinter.
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