Faith, the seventh book in Len Deighton’s trilogy of trilogies, starts off the third trilogy with a littler bit of a whimper. Back again as the narrator after the different perspective in book six is British secret agent Bernard Samson, along with his love triangle and an attempt to secure the defection of a Russian computer security expert.
Though the latter nominally provides a drive for the plot in Faith, not that much happens for most of the book and the overall trilogy develops only a little.
Deighton continues his habit of throwing in new evidence about previous events, keeping his characters changing their perspectives on what really happened previously. In Faith he appears to stumble in doing this, as one of the new twists – about his wife Fiona’s sister, Tessa – is one the reader knows is false given what we were told in the narrative of earlier books. I say “appears” as perhaps in the rest of the trilogy this apparent obvious false lead will be turned into a brilliant piece of misdirection, but by the end of the volume it seems instead just a weak twist that is either obviously untrue or, if true, a case of the author not playing fair by the readers by first presenting something as fact in the narrative (rather than in, say, the words uttered by a character) and then contradicting it.
What there is rather more of, and more successfully done, is the development of the characters, especially Sansom’s dilemmas over how to untangle his life and, having followed many of characters through six previous books, this maintains the interest even as the espionage treads water – and, as ever, the German settings and moments of tension are so well done that it’s easy to forgive a few frailties in the rest.
If you like this, you might also be interested in Berlin Game (the first book of the first Sansom trilogy).
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