The new introduction
The story is, unlike The Ipcress File which precedes it, a less familiar part of the popular culture of the sixties thanks mostly to the aforementioned lack of a film adaptation (as a result of the lacklustre reception to the - in my opinion rather good actually - Ken Russell film of Billion Dollar Brain). Nevertheless, Deighton repeats the successful formula of the 'Harry Palmer' series in this book, which transports our working class, sardonic, wise-cracking un-named agent to the shores of Salazar's Portugal, where he finds a heady cocktail of hard drugs, money and neo-Nazis.
Continuing his chessboard theme set with the first novel in this series, Arnold Schwartzman OBE RDI again presents a fascinating smorgasbord of ephemeral items, each of which points to a story motif. So, on the front cover the readers finds a cornucopia of clues which whet the appetite. A tin of sardines (empty) represents the Portuguese coast, as does a cigarette card of said sardine. But, as Schwartzman notes: "Finding a contemporary, key-opened Portuguese sardine tin became virtually impossible. Discovering the illustration of a sardine on a cigarette card and crested souvenir spoon form Lisbon became much easier, thanks to eBay!"
As he has told me in correspondence about these designs, much of his time was indeed spent sourcing numerous items from around the world, in his search for authentic items which would capture the sixties feel he wanted in the design. The 1960s Times newspaper, open at the crossword, links to the fact that the protagonist is regularly completing such a puzzle; indeed, in the sixties, first editions of the book came with a laid-in crossword puzzle which readers could solve based on clues in the book.
As with the four other books in this reissue series, the spine image is of a postage stamp which picks out a core theme in the book. On this cover, it is a U-Boat. On the back, there is another nautical clue. As Schwartzman explains: "The group of cigarette cards on the back of the cover spells out in semaphore K.U.Z.I.G. and Y. The nautical interpretation of these letters is referred to in the book as 'Permission granted to lay alongside.'"
A fantastic cover worthy of sitting alongside the original Ray Hawkey cover from the sixties, I think. Schwartzman put a significant amount of work into this commission from Deighton, and it works in making the novel appear contemporary to the average book browser, even though the story is now over forty years old.