cover image Faith


Len Deighton / Author HarperCollins Publishers $24 (337p) ISBN

Deighton's beleaguered British spy, Bernard Samson, returns to kick off the third trilogy in the outstanding series that has run from 1984's Berlin Game through 1990's Spy Sinker. Taking up where Sinker left off, in the fall of 1987 (thus making Deighton perhaps the only major thriller author who's still writing about the Cold War), this rich entry finds Samson leaving California to pick up VERDI, code name for a high-ranking East German Stasi officer who may be defecting to Britain's SIS. The operation goes disastrously wrong during a shoot-out in East Germany, but Samson manages to get back to London, where he encounters real danger and fighting: the take-no-prisoners politicking within the SIS, involving Samson, his duplicitous wife and a slew of internal enemies and possible friends. Deighton's penchant for explosive violence, telling detail and throwaway humor (too much coffee, Samson comments to his boss, ""`makes some people very tense.' `Not me,' said Dicky, biting into a fingernail. `I'm used to it'"") are much in evidence here, and readers will enjoy some of the finest intramural politicking since C.P. Snow. What's more problematic is whether they'll relish a tale set in the Cold War and thus lacking the unpredictability of stories set in the post-Soviet world or the nostalgia of those evoking less recent wars, like Deighton's own SS-GB. Given the author's mastery of the genre, though, the odds are that they will, strongly. 125,000 first printing; $150,000 ad/promo. (Jan.)