Title:                      Yesterday’s Spy

Author:                 Len Deighton

Deighton, Len (1975). Yesterday’s Spy. New York : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

LCCN:    75012609

PZ4.D324 Ye3

Date Posted:      September 29, 2015


Yesterday’s spies, a lot more recognizable than today’s acronym ciphers, neither die nor fade away; often they’re just too hard to kill. Even if they’re as flagrant as Steve Champion, who thirty years ago had been a legendary part of a Resistance reseau[2] and lost three fingers, one by one, to the Germans. Now, having converted guns into cash, Steve is said to be living in a fortified villa in Nice surrounded by quietly footpadding Arabs; he wears a fez. . . he’s selling a nuclear device to the Middle East? Charlie Bonnard, a former confederate whose life he once saved, is recruited by British Intelligence where Dawlish still presides. Charlie is supposed to flush him out and bring him in after a pretty young British operative is killed. But Champion has enemies all over: the old Jew from the reseau who deals in stamps and other kinds of cancellations; Steve’s ex-wife’s sister who hates him or loves him or more probably both. Only Charlie manages to retain a certain loyalty toward Champion compounded with a kind of disbelief, because of the man that he once was. This is a much better justification for the book than the hyped-up action and sophisticated automated equipment. It also lends an aura of acrid romanticism to Deighton’s impregnable loner in a devalued modern world. Yesterday’s spy is more of an agent for all seasons than any Deighton has used in recent years, adding a certain dimension to the form-fitting genre.

[1] KIRKUS  reviews, downloaded September 24, 2015

[2] Réseau is French for a network or grid, thus a spy or intelligence network, especially in the French resistance movement during the German occupation in World War II.


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