The first book in the second Bernard Samson trilogy feels much more serialized than the start of a trilogy. I wouldn’t suggest that you start with Spy Hook; however, it is the beginning of a compelling arc that provides more information for your personal dossier of Bernard Samson.
The events of the first trilogy loom extremely large in setting Spy Hook into motion. One question, however, lingered as I began this book. Would the information from Game, Set, Match and that trilogy’s prequel Winter provide useful information to me as the reader, or is that information just a way for author Len Deighton to fly more false flags my way?
In this particular trilogy, Samson has stumbled onto one of the largest financial conundrums there has ever been. Where is the missing money? Who took it? What is it for? And who’s side is it going to finance? This is how the Hook, Line, and Sinker trilogy gets its start, and I’m all in.
Even with all of the interconnected backstory from the prequel Winter, Deighton still gives you clues to other backgrounds and histories that he hasn’t fully revealed yet, and that, perhaps he might not ever. It’s amazing because, after Winter, it feels like you know everything there is to know about the Samson-verse. Then, you continue to Spy Hook, and you realize you know just as much as you did before – no more, no less.
It’s not hard to get sucked back into all of the characters that we already know, but the expansion of certain details in Spy Hook make it a standout to me.
We learn more about what his boss Dicky Cruyer expects of him for the paper-pushing part of the job, which is sadly no different than most corporate jobs.
“Just keep it warm until we hear who’s going to be on the committee,” Dicky would say. Or “Tell the old bastard to get stuffed, but keep him sweet,” “This might work out if they find the right people, but make sure it doesn’t bounce back our way,” and his standard reaction, “Find out what they really expect and maybe we’ll be able to meet them halfway.” These were the sort of arcane instructions I was trying to implement on Tuesday while Dicky was gone to wherever he went when there was work in the offing. And Dickey wanted everything done by the end of the day.”
We also learn more about Samson’s hero complex when someone he is trying to help decides to move on and gives him a tongue lashing that, as we have come to know over at least one trilogy by now, Samson will ignore, though it is such a great build-up to the climax:
“I think you want to destroy yourself. It’s something to do with Fiona leaving you. Perhaps you feel guilty in some way. But all these theories you dream up . . . I mean, they never come to anything, do they? Don’t you see that inside you there is some kind of worm that is eating you up? I suppose you desperately want to believe that all the world is wrong, and only Bernard Samson is right.” She snapped her handbag lock closed. “Forget all this crap, Bernard. Life is too short to rectify all the world’s wrongs. It took me a long time to see that, but from now on I live my life. I’m not going to change the world.”
And of course, there are a few Palmer references. My favorite had to be, “I sipped a lovely Château Palmer and nodded. The wine was coming to life now, a wonderful combination of half-forgotten fragrancies.” At this point, I believe Deighton is just throwing them in for fan service, and every time Palmer graces the pages it brings a smile to my face.
To reiterate, I wouldn’t suggest you start with Spy Hook. I suggest you start with Berlin Game, but with that said, there are enough nods to what happened in the previous trilogy of Game, Set, Match, that you could pick this up without being lost.
However, you decide to start, get to know Bernard Samson through this wonderful series.
Read the Secret File of technical information and quotes from Spy Hook.