LJ Ross Book Club: A Classic Spy Thriller for January
Northumberland-born LJ Ross is the bestselling author of the DCI Ryan murder mystery series. Each month, she shares an exclusive Book Club pick with Living North readers
The Ipcress File, Len Deighton
This month’s LJ Ross Book Club selection is a classic spy thriller from Len Deighton. The Ipcress File may already be burned into the hearts and minds of many a fan of Michael Caine, who played Deighton’s unlikely hero, Harry Palmer, in the big screen adaptation of the same name. First published in 1962 during the Cold War, the novel reflects the paranoia of the time, wherein his unnamed working class spy (who wasn’t named until later) is tasked with finding a missing biochemist, a search which embroils him in a web of dark and deadly conspiracy.
‘The thing I love most about Deighton’s style has to be his irreverence; not only does he have a natural flair for dry comedy, but he imbues his protagonist with the same. The result is a working class secret agent who’d rather be doing something – anything – else with his life, and whose apathy serves as a complete counterfoil to the other great fictional spy of that era – namely, James Bond. Despite Deighton’s best efforts, there is glamour to his story, but it’s accidental, not contrived. If anything, The Ipcress File seems to have been a deliberate attempt to subvert the genre through the creation of a character who is supremely bored by his profession, set in a world that is gritty and realistic. It’s a fantastic read for a rainy day, and the flavour of the sixties oozes from every page. Highly recommended!’