Sunday 27 January 2019

Understanding SS-GB - a reader's appreciation [guest blog post]

Thanks to reader and Dossier follower Terry Kidd for sharing this perspective on the books, in which he compares historical fiction it portrays with what actually happened.

Fact versus fiction

SS-GB came out of what I think of as Len Deighton's Second World War aviation period after Bomber and Fighter. It was published in 1978. SS-GB is more than just a look at London under Nazi occupation. The story touches issues that go to the heart of the Nazi ideology and the reasons Germany lost the war.

I’ve long been a sciencew fiction fan and when SS-GB first appeared I was delighted to find the unique voice of Len Deighton in an alternate worlds setting.

In 2017 we got the TV version. Scripted by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, the writers of the recent James Bond films, with top productions values and a great cast. It is a worthy version. Moreover, being a mini-series rather than feature length, it was possible to stick much closer to the novel and pleasingly, many lines of dialogue are lifted straight from the page. But there are differences in plotting some of which I’ll discuss here.

Saturday 26 January 2019

Harry Palmer returned .... sort of.

Author Penelope Wallace - former Chair, Crime Writers' Association International
It's rare these days that I come across something undiscovered relating to the works of Len Deighton - but thanks to some recent correspondence with Dossier reader Tony Medawar, I have.

He shared with me a copy of an article he wrote a while back for the British magazine CADS (Crime and Detective Stories), which gives further details of Len Deighton's contribution to a (sadly) unpublished serial mystery story entitled The Greatest Mystery Round the World.

The article details how crime writers Jean Bowden and Penelope Wallace developed an idea to create a sort of patchwork thriller story in audiobook form, with different contributions from leading crime and thriller writers at the time (and their character creations) based on a framework plot, including one Len Deighton. It was to be released in a series of 22-minute audio episodes on tape.

His chapter contribution wasn't titled, but was to be narrated by 'Harry P' - i.e. Harry Palmer. Eight chapters were to be released on audio, with the ninth - the denouement - either being published separately or left out, replaced by a competion to find the best conclusion to the story.

Tony has since advised that, when he spoke to another contributor, Martin Edwards, he told him that Len said he had no memory of ever having written the piece! So, a 'lost' masterpiece .... sort of. Thanks to Tony for sharing a very interesting article with the Dossier.

Tuesday 15 January 2019

Share your thoughts ahead of Len Deighton's 90th birthday

The Deighton Dossier wants to hear from you!

Next month - 18 February, to be precise - Len Deighton, the English author whose various works this website discusses and celebates, will turn 90.

I want to mark this with special posts on this blog, the main Deighton Dossier website, linked to on the Facebook page and on Twitter.

But rather than just write my thoughts, I'd like to draw on the small but dedicated community of Deighton readers/watchers who follow this blog and the related social media sites, to create a true fan's perspective on Len Deighton, to mark this milestone birthday.

You can do that in two ways:

  • Complete a simple, 3-question survey on Survey Monkey to find out - hopefully, in a definitive way - readers' favourite books
  • Share your thoughts on what Deighton's books mean to you as a reader, by dropping an email to me at deightondossier AT icloud DOT com

The 'exam question' is simple - tell us:

What do Len Deighton's books mean to you as a reader?

That gives you plenty of scope to be creative and share thoughts with other readers in the Deighton-reading community, and the wider spy fiction community. 

I'd like to get as many inputs as possible. To keep things manageable, follow these guidelines:
  • 250 words maximum
  • Be concise and to the point
  • Tell us your name (or if you'd prefer, initials) and your country e.g John Smith, Bulgaria, to be associated with your contribution

If, however, you have more to say, I am happy to also consider longer contributions from Deighton Dossier readers on this broad theme, which I can then add as separate posts on the blog and on social media.

Also, remember to use this hashtag on social media: #LenDeighton90