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Literature / Bernard Samson Series

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A trilogy of trilogies, with an epic thrown in for good measure, this is the second best known series of Len Deighton. (His earlier series was known as "The spy with no name" in the books, who was called "Harry Palmer" in the movies).

It stars a British spy called Bernard Samson who is as much a Berliner as an Englishman, having grown up as the child of an Allied Occupation officer who attended German schools and over the course of the series discovers that his wife, also a spy, is working for East Germany.

The books in the series, divided by their trilogy:

Trilogy 1: Game, Set and Match.

  • Berlin Game
  • Mexico Set
  • London Match

Adapted into a TV series in 1998. It was a ratings failure and Len Deighton disowned it. He has since bought the rights and has prevented it being re-released on DVD.

The Epic:

  • Winter- The story of two brothers living in Germany from 1900 to 1945. Background to the series.

Trilogy 2: Hook, Line and Sinker

  • Spy Hook
  • Spy Line
  • Spy Sinker- Hook and Line from points of view rather than that of Samson.

Trilogy 3: Faith, Hope and Charity

  • Faith
  • Hope
  • Charity

This series contains examples of:

  • The Alleged Car: With so much action in East Germany, Trabants and other Soviet-bloc cars figure heavily (and all MI6 can obtain are older used ones).
  • Author Appeal: It wouldn't be a Len Deighton work without copious descriptions of what the characters are eating.
  • Bookends: Each book in the 'Game, Set and Match' trilogy begins and ends inside a car.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Bernard, to the irritation of his superiors.
  • Clear My Name: Fiona's defection throws suspicion on Bernard too.
  • Feed the Mole
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: In-universe example. After killing a KGB agent, Bernard Samson has to explain to his superior that no, he couldn't have just shot to wound, hitting someone with a gun is difficult enough without aiming for specific body parts.
  • Incredibly Obvious Tail: In London Match. Naturally, it turns out to be a trap.
  • The Mole
  • Obfuscating Stupidity/Obfuscating Disability: In the 'Game, Set and Match' trilogy, it is strongly rumoured that the Director-General of MI6, Sir Henry Clevemore has gone totally senile. The second trilogy reveals that this is anything but the case.
  • Overt Operative: In the first novel, Berlin Game, Bernard becomes suspicious of two KGB officers who are deliberately behaving like KGB Officers and reasons that they are trying to draw attention to one double agent in SIS to draw attention away from a better placed agent.
  • Red Herring Mole: Giles Trent in Berlin Game.
  • Spy Master: Brett Rensselaer is revealed as this.
  • The Stale Beer approach to Spy Fiction.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Girlfriend: Bernard and Gloria
  • Unreliable Narrator: According to Word of God we're not meant to take Bernard's view of his colleagues too seriously; they're not really as stupid as he makes out.
  • Wannabe Secret Agent: Werner Volkman is something of a suberversion of this trope; he desperately wants to work for the British as a secret agent, and when given the chance to do so, is incredibly good at it. Julian MacKenzie in "Mexico Set" plays this straight, with tragic consequences.