Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Happy Birthday, Mr Deighton .....

Today is Len Deighton's 86th birthday. On behalf of readers of this blog and fans of his spy and other fiction, we wish him an enjoyable birthday with his family and many more birthdays to come.

I understand from Len he'll be celebrating with a cheesecake from his local bakery. Well deserved.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

A certain Mr L.C. Deighton makes an appearance in a new detective novel ....

Author and friend of the Deighton Dossier Mike Ripley - editor of the Getting Away with Murder column on Shotsmag, the online resource for fans of crime and thriller fiction - has paid tribute to his friend and fellow author Len Deighton in his new novel.

Mike, the author of the Angel series of detective novels and supremo behind Ostara Publishing - which is resurrecting lost thrillers and spy novels, book by book - has written the new Albert Campion novel - Mr Campion's Fox - starring the detective character created by Margery Allingham.

The first novel in this new series, Mr Campion's Farewell, was based on a fragment of a manuscript started by the author's widower, Youngman Carter, which Ripley completed to resurrect this detective.

This new novel, the second in the revamped series, Mr Campion's Fox, is a new story created by Ripley for the character.

The crime fiction in thebook takes place in the fictional Suffolk coastal village of Gapton.  Here's the summary of the plot from the book's publicity material:
'The Danish Ambassador has requested Albert Campion's help on 'a delicate family matter'. He's very concerned about his eighteen-year-old daughter, who has formed an attachment to an unsuitable young man. Recruiting his unemployed actor son, Rupert, to keep an eye on Frank Tate, the young man in question, Mr Campion notes some decidedly odd behaviour on the part of the up-and-coming photographer. 
Before he can act on the matter, however, both the Ambassador's daughter and her beau disappear without trace. Then a body is discovered in a lagoon. With appearances from all of Margery Allingham's regular characters, from Campion's former manservant Lugg, to his wife Lady Amanda Fitton and others, this witty and elegant mystery is sure to delight Allingham's many fans. The dialogue is sharp and witty, the observation keen, and the climax is thrilling and eerily atmospheric.'
In the Campion books, Albert Campion worked on and off for British Intelligence, usually just referred to as ‘Security’. The Head of Security (capital S, nothing to do with Sandyman’s Brewery...), who retired in one of the Youngman Carter books, was L. C. Corkran, known as “Elsie” from his initials “L.C.”

In Ripley's new book, as it involves East German spies, he sought a replacement “Elsie” and the thought came to him: who did he know with those initials? So, Ripley invented “Major” L.C. Deighton as the new “Elsie”. Here's an excerpt from the text:
"My name’s not Corkran, though – that would be rather incestuous – it’s Deighton, actually.’

‘Like the writer of those clever spy stories?’ Campion asked innocently.


‘Never mind.’ Campion turned to the man closer to his own age and took his proffered hand. ‘Delighted to meet you, Mr Sandyman; speaking as a grateful customer.’"
Len's initials are, of course, L.C - Leonard Cyril Deighton. Nice tribute! The book is available on Amazon here.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Heir to the throne?.....

Insufficiently posh
This review in The Guardian of the new Matthew Vaughn film Kingsman draws a line between this modern spy action movie and the spies of past decades of British cinema, including, of course, Harry Palmer.

This being The Guardian, the article is all about class - are we still obsessed by 'posh' spies, given that one of the main characters in this new movie wears Savile Row seats, speaks RP and is part of an elite?

Spy fiction on film has been the preserve of the heroic posh Brit (Harry Palmer aside), writes Stuart Jeffries, but in reality many of the UK's poshest spies have proved their worst, such as Donald McLean and of course Kim Philly.

You can read too much into one movie, of course. The main lesson from the trailer seems to be that the film (like the graphic novel) should be a lot of fun. And that's the point.