Monday 15 October 2012

Any questions?

I'm due to meet up with Len this weekend for lunch and what should be an enjoyable chat about, well, all sorts of things.

Any interesting questions you think it would be interesting to ask?

Things I'm hoping to bring up are:

  • Deighton on Bond, in this fiftieth anniversary year
  • Stories from behind the iron curtain
  • Agents in Soho
Feel free to post up questions you think need answering and I'll endeavour to ask them or, perhaps, I might ask Len if he'll do a third exclusive set of Q&As for the blog.

Good discussion with Len over the weekend over a host of things, some of which I'll look to summarise on the blog soon. He agreed to do another Q&A taking on some of the questions which people have put up on the blog and the Facebook page. Hope to have that up here on the site soon.


  1. I'm sure I have dozens of questions I'd love to ask Len, but off the top of my head, here are a few...

    1. What does "W.O.O.C.(P)" stand for? Or did Len just make up the initials without actually having a name? I always thought the "(P)" meant "Provisional", but "W.O." presumably does not mean "War Office" since Dawlish and Ross clearly belong to different organizations.

    2. Is the character called "Pat Armstrong" in "Spy Story" really the unnamed protangonist from the early "Secret File" novels? There seems to be evidence both for and against, but I'd like to hear Len's view. Pat seems to me to have a lot in common with "Harry Palmer", whereas the unnamed hero of "An Expensive Place to Die" seems like a very different person.

    3. The closest that the Secret File protagonist ever gets to having a real heart-to-heart conversation with another person is his talk with Col. Stok near the end of "Billion Dollar Brain", after the death of Harvey Newbegin. How does Len see the relationship between these two? On the one hand, they are obviously antagonists, but on the other hand, they know perfectly well who each other are and what they represent, which in an odd way gives them a certainty about each other that they probably rarely find with others. Perhaps it's easier for "Harry" to say what he really feels to someone he knows is an enemy, as opposed to someone he can't be entirely sure about.

    4. At the end of "Charity" we learn that Silas has been the mastermind behind everything since "Berlin Game". Did Len have it planned that way from the start, and was the series always intended to be a "trilogy of trilogies" leading up to that final revelation?

    I'll post more questions if they come to mind, but I'd like to end for now by thanking Len for many hours of enjoyable and thought-provoking reading over the thirty-odd years since I first discovered the original US paperback edition of "SS-GB" and thought it looked like an interesting read. (That's still one of my favorite Deightons.) I've read most of his novels more than once -- some several times -- and I've also found his books on WW2 to be fascinating and informative.

  2. Good questions - I'll see what I can include in the discussion

  3. Wow! I think I'd like to ask Len if we can read a new novel :)

    Another question, if my previous one is not good: are you satisfied by the movie transposition of your novels?

  4. Hi! Thanks for the opportunity to throw out some potential questions. Very cool.

    I recently read The Ipcress File for the first time and what struck me was that the story was really about a office drone taking on more responsibilities and learning how to become a manager. The LeCarre “Smiley” model of the lifelong bureaucratic pencil pusher is almost cliché but what hasn’t been seen as much is a younger person coming into their own as a manager in that type of story. The office politics aspect of it was what grounded the more fanciful elements of the book and feels valid even today. Was that portion of the book based on any of his experiences in the workplace or invented out of whole cloth like the rest of the story?