A very welcome return for British agent Bernard Samson, hero of Berlin Game, Mexico Set, and London Match (1983-85). In this equally masterful first volume of a new trilogy, Samson, as affably sardonic as ever, sniffs out an apparent financial swindle within the Service that puts him head to head with many of the principals of his past adventures--and of Deighton's Winter (1988) as well. Like Berlin Game, this novel, also narrated by Bernie, starts out slowly as the midle-aged spy attends to domestic matters: adjusting to life in the London suburbs with his two kids and young lover, Gloria (replacement for wife Fiona, who defected as a KGB spy in the earlier books); digesting the sour news that Gloria plans to study at Cambridge in the fall; helping an old German pal manage a hotel misrun by another old, now infirm, friend. But even as Bernie navigates this personal tangle, darker matters grab his attention: ex-agent Jim Prettyman, whom Bernie fails to bring back from D.C. to London on Service orders, is reported killed in a robbery--although Mrs. Prettyman suspects murder at the Service's hand. Ordered to fly to California, Bernie is whisked to an isolated estate and into the presence of ex-agent Bret Rensselaer, who was reported dead by the Director General himself a few years back; Bret and assorted higher-ups warn Bernie to drop his unauthorized investigation into Prettyman's death and its link to a fortune evidently missing from Service funds. Why was Prettyman apparently snuffed? Why did the Director General lie about Bret's death? What is Fiona's role in all this intrigue? Only some of these questions find answers here, as Bernie winds up twisting in the Berlin wind, his life and career on the line. As comfy and serviceable as a favorite pair of fine, handcrafted slippers. Deighton's fans will be delighted to slip back into Bernie's complex world, so brightly human and artfully shadowed. Another Deighton triumph and likely best-seller.