cover image Hope: A Bernard Samson Thriller

Hope: A Bernard Samson Thriller

Len Deighton / Author HarperCollins Publishers $24 (0p) ISBN 9

Veteran British spy Bernard Samson returns to fight further Cold War battles in this deceptively easygoing sequel to Faith (and prequel to Charity), set in 1987. Here, the dour secret agent tries to track down his Polish brother-in-law, George Kosinski, who seems to have returned to his homeland in hope that his wife, presumed dead, is still alive. Samson, along with his aggravating superior, Dicky Cruyer, trails his quarry from Switzerland to Poland in the wake of the October 1987 stock market crash, only to be presented with evidence that Kosinski is dead--killed, it is said, by Russian army deserters. Samson doesn't buy the alleged facts of Kosinski's death, and events prove him correct--right up to the conclusion, a hair-breadth's escape from oblivion for himself and others. Deighton's carefully crafted but seemingly nonchalant narration--droll, almost deadpan--fits perfectly the character of Samson, a perceptive but closed-mouthed gent who is seemingly unimpressed by events like the sudden appearance of a dead body in his ex-mistress's bedroom or the bizarre theft of a severed hand. Exciting moments are handled casually, while causal conversations are given the detail expected of important ones, resulting in a version of reality that is disjointed and emotionally distanced, as a master spy's take on things may very well be. Deighton gives readers unfamiliar with Samson's troubled life plenty of background information, so newcomers as well as old series hands should take equal pleasure in this subtly intense offering by perhaps the only author other than le Carre who deserves to be known as ``spymaster.'' (Jan.)