At this point in the Samson-verse, picking up the book is like reconnecting with an old friend. But if Faith was your first time meeting Bernard Samson, you wouldn’t be lost for some conversation either.
Deighton himself makes a great case to read this book on its own without the rest of the Samson-verse that precedes it. However, it does pick up where the previous one, Spy Sinker, ended. As Deighton himself has written; “Like all the other books, Faith is designed to stand alone, and be read without reference to the other stories.”
While that’s true, it’s a new day and a fresh start, the frayed mission threads weave themselves into this storyline with enough points reiterated that you won’t be lost.
The plot is cold war espionage at its height, at classic Bernard Samson. “Caught between his job, his ethics, his past, and the two women he loves, [Bernard] finds there is no one he can confide in, nothing to depend on. Except Faith.”
The thing that strikes me most is that there is poetry and even some philosophy in this book – probably the most in the series so far. The poetry you’ll have to find on your own, but the philosophy is some great stuff. Examples include:
- ‘It’s the nature of undercover work that the unexpected so often happens. You plan for three different eventualities but the fourth occurs.’
- ‘Scribble one of your famous reports that take five pages to say nothing.’
- ‘I hear that everything passes in time: the pain of love, death, failure, humiliation, hatred, bereavement . . . the pain of everything fades eventually.’
- ‘There is no such thing as decision-making, that’s just a gimmick the gods provide to refine and add to the torment.’
I like this book, and I might even say it’s the height of Deighton’s Samson series, excepting that my conscious understanding of there being only two books remaining after this may be impairing some of that impartial judgment. Still, I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of thrillers or spy fiction, but there are two notes of warning for anyone interested.
First, you don’t need the books that precede this one in the series but it does round out the characters and increase the intrigue tenfold. It’s similar to the way that you can watch Marvel movies in a vacuum, but they mean more when watched in their appointed place and time with each other.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, this is very much the first book in another Deighton trilogy. This book does have an ending, but because it is the first in a trilogy, it leaves many more story threads open than it closes. If that bothers you, know that this book is followed by Hope and Charity. There is more to this story than just Faith, but if you’re interested and just want a one-off, perhaps some of the earlier Deighton works like Horse Under Water, Close-Up, or Goodbye Mickey Mouse would be a better Deighton start.