Mini review: “The Ipcress File” by Len Deighton (audiobook version)

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I have read many of Len Deighton’s books and enjoyed the audiobook versions that have been released over the course of the last four years but I had never read his first book, The Ipcress File, until now.

I’ve seen the film, listened to the BBC radio adaptation and worked my way through several of the other “Spy with no name” / ”Harry Palmer” books, so I thought it was about time I corrected this major oversight.  Can you really be called a fan of an author if you haven’t read their first big hit?

The plot deals with our spy trying to secure the release of a scientist who was recently kidnapped – one of several to have gone missing.

The book is far from perfect.  The story gets confusing at some points (something that can happen when the author is trying to portray the confusion of the character himself) and seems to drag at some points too, although it generally rattles along at a good pace.  It also relies a lot on a “catch up” section where the spy has to explain a number of things to a colleague towards the end of the book.

Despite all of that, the book is a lot of fun to read.  You get a real sense of the 1960’s London vibe and some excellent dry humour.  I’ve always loved the quality of dialogue between characters in Deighton books and he really nails it here.

The narration is well done.  If you have heard any of the other audiobooks in the “Harry Palmer” or the “Bernard Samson” series then you know what to expect – it is the same narrator.  The book mentions the character’s northern English roots on occasion, so it is a bit of a shame that we basically get a copy of Michael Caine’s accent.  In the radio adaptation the character is played by the Liverpudlian Ian Hart.  It would have been more authentic to keep that but the general public do associate dear old Maurice Joseph Micklewhite Jr with the role.

Overall I prefer the Bernard Samson novels over these “Spy with no name” / ”Harry Palmer” books, but the Ipcress File is probably the best of this series.  I found it to be a perfect summer read.

 

• Spare Cycles: Len Deighton books

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Horse Under Water” by Len Deighton (audiobook version)

• Spare Cycles: Film: Funeral in Berlin

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Billion Dollar Brain” by Len Deighton

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Berlin Game” by Len Deighton (audiobook version)

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Mexico Set” by Len Deighton (audiobook version)

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “London Match” by Len Deighton (audiobook version)

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Spy Hook” by Len Deighton (audiobook version)

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Spy Line” by Len Deighton (audiobook version)

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Spy Sinker” by Len Deighton (audiobook version)

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Radio: “The Ipcress File” by Len Deighton (BBC Radio 4 adaptation)

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I have to admit straight off that I’ve never actually read The Ipcress File, which is strange because I’ve now read a lot of Len Deighton’s other books. It was his first book, a big hit that is said to have helped redefine thriller writing in the 1960s. It is a big omission given that I have read other books in Deighton’s “unnamed spy” series such as Horse Under Water, Funeral in Berlin and Billion-Dollar Brain.

I think I have been put off by the film version of the Ipcress File which got a bit too psychedelic in places for my taste.

This BBC Radio 4 adaptation from 2004 is distinctly different to the film so I assume that it is much truer to the overall plot of the book. The casting of Liverpudlian Ian Hart is more authentic to the main character’s supposed birthplace of Lancashire than cockney Londoner Michael Caine in the film.

It is 1 1/2 hours long so there is room for the story to breathe and it is very well done. Highly recommended.

One of these days I’ll read the book…

• Spare Cycles: Len Deighton books

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Horse Under Water” by Len Deighton (audiobook version)

• Spare Cycles: Film: Funeral in Berlin

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Billion Dollar Brain” by Len Deighton

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Winter: A Berlin Family 1899-1945” by Len Deighton (audiobook version)

Film review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

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I liked the original Jurassic Park film a lot and the book even more. The Lost World (Jurassic Park 2) spoiled things as both the film (hardly Steven Speilberg’s finest hour) and the book (hardly Michael Crichton’s finest hour) were bad. I kind of remember Jurassic Park 3 being better.

I missed the first Jurassic World but seeing this one they have done a good job of updating the series whilst basically keeping it the same.

I’m not sure why, but I feel a bit guilty about how much I enjoyed this Dino action. Velociraptors are still my favourite.

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton (audiobook version)

Film review: Black Panther

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Without doubt this is up there with the best films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Good science fiction can allow you to reflect on the real world in new ways. This ties in some of America’s past sins whilst also offering some parallels with our current political climate.

The film has received glowing reviews everywhere, is a huge financial success (this could be the highest-grossing film of the year, out-earning even Avengers – Infinity War) and has elevated a little-known comic book character into the public consciousness.

If someone wanted to find out what all the fuss is about with these Marvel films, I’d recommend that they start here.

• Spare Cycles: Marvel Cinematic Universe: movie reviews Assembled

• Empire: Black Panther review

• The Guardian:  Black Panther review – Marvel’s thrilling vision of the afrofuture

• The Atlantic: The Game-Changing Success of Black Panther

• The Numbers: Top Grossing Movies of 2018

Spare Cycles turns eleven…

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This lovingly crafted blog is celebrating its eleventh birthday. A beer (or eleven) is cooling in the fridge to toast the reaching of a milestone. Happy birthday!

• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns ten…

• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns nine…

• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns eight…

• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns seven…

• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns six…

• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns five…

• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns four…

• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns three…

Film review: Avengers – Infinity War

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Wow.

Now that was off the scale…

Where do they go from here?

Also, as ever, stick around to the end of the credits.

• Spare Cycles: Marvel Cinematic Universe: movie reviews Assembled

• Empire: Avengers: Infinity War Review

Film review: Solo – A Star Wars Story

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I really enjoyed Rogue One, the last Star Wars Story, and this is great too.

Roll on the next one…

• Spare Cycles: Film: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

• Spare Cycles: Film: Rogue One – A Star Wars Story

• Spare Cycles: Film: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

• Spare Cycles: Happy Birthday to… The Empire Strikes Back

• Spare Cycles: Review: Star Wars Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (Special Edition) soundtrack