SPY SINKER by Len Deighton
Kirkus Star

SPY SINKER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The third volume in Deighton's hitherto stunning spy series (Spy Line, 1988; Spy Hook, 1989)--but not a sequel. Rather, this gray-spirited entry serves as a kind of dramatic annotation to the earlier volumes--and, peripherally, to Deighton's Berlin Game/Mexico Set/London Match trilogy as well--retelling the Bernard Samson odyssey from the points of view of his wife and her manipulative spymaster. In 1977, Bret Rensselaer, star strategist of British intelligence, unveils his grand plan to the Director. General: to bring down communism in East Germany by planting within the KGB a British mole who will foster dissent among the German professional class. The mole? Beautiful, patriotic spy Fiona Samson, whose subsequent staged defection to the East--considered genuine by nearly all, including husband Bernie--fueled the dark fires of the previous volumes. Here, Bret painstakingly sets up his gambit and cajoles Fiona into acting as his knight, while she, though still in love with Bernie, seeks solace from the stress of her impending defection by beginning an affair. Cut to 1983, then 1984, years that find Fiona defecting to East Berlin and staggering under the strain of double-agenting (cold chills are provided by a cruel KGB agent and a psychiatrist who displays to Fiona a brain-damaged political prisoner); meanwhile, Bret, with Bernie as pawn, plays spy-chess with his East European counterparts, juggling defectors and dodging assassins. Cut to 1987: her mission accomplished, Fiona at last comes in from the cold, but at a terrible personal price. Deighton at his most le CarrÉ-like: masterful webs of intrigue, bursts of psychological terror, lots of astute talk, little action. But where's the unique and winsome Deighton touch? Grave-faced Fiona's not nearly as warm company as passionate Bernie. And it's likely that readers new to the series will be confused by the cross-references, while veterans will regret the inherent lack of suspense--and payoff; like Bernie and Fiona, they're left dangling just where they were at the end of Spy Line, more experienced but no wiser.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Harper & Row