Sunday 12 July 2020

Snippets from the Ripster

Lockdown's been an odd experience. Even as some restrictions ease, it's going to be an odd summer.

I recently received a nice message from author Mike Ripley - who's a long-standing friend of Len Deighton, and of the Dossier. Judging by the pic he shared, he's coping fine with lockdown!

Mike Ripley suffering through lockdown!

Mike - who writes the always excellent 'Getting Away with It' column in the online Shots magazine is a great source for all the latest news in crime and thriller fiction, pointed me in the direction of two recent homages, if you will, to Deighton's wok.

In his newspy story Hammer to Fall, John Lawton includes this scene:

The hero spy returning from a mission to Finland in 1966 goes to the home of his boss to find that the boss’ wife - a notoriously bad cook – has left ‘a nice little bourguignon on the hob’ for them. The spymaster boss tells our hero:

“Ever since she discovered Len Deighton’s Cookstrip she’s been unstoppable. Calls it cuisine à la spook … her shorthand for it is spy-fry.”

Nice pun!

And in Mike's own new book Mr Campion's Seance, a visiting Interpol agent is waiting for Campion at Scotland Yard. When Campion arrives he finds him surrounded by a pile of newspapers. The setting is November 1962:

‘Your English is as annoyingly good as it always was.’ Campion pointed to the pile of Evening Standard newspapers on the chair and leaned over to peruse the one open on the desk. ‘Is that your secret? A close reading of the juicy stories in London’s evening papers?’

‘Superintendent Luke kindly gave me yesterday’s issue to read whilst I was waiting and I discovered this wonderful serial, a new spy story called
The Ipcress File. I simply had to know what had gone before and one of the constables found me copies of last week’s papers. It is really very good; you should read it.’

‘Are you sure it’s fiction? Our newspapers seem to be uncovering spy stories every week these days.’

‘This story reads like it is true, but it is fiction. The paper says there will be a book soon.’

Mike tells me he sent Len a copy of my book which (he said) he enjoyed, and told him about the John Lawton reference. He emailed Mike back: ‘How nice to hear that I am not forgot.’