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


I just happened to check Audible a day after this was released and snapped it up immediately.  I love the idea that Len Deighton’s work has been reissued and new audiobooks are being made of them.  The IPCRESS File is also new as an audiobook – I’ll pick that up at some point.

I’m not a big fan of Deighton’s “unnamed spy” / “Harry Palmer” series of books – so far none has blown me away.  I’m reading them out of order but that is not the problem – they’re just not up to the same standard as his other work.

Horse Under Water is easily the best so far.  Some of the dialogue is just brilliant, at times very funny.  The book is not without its faults – it can be a bit confusing and is saved by the fact that it likes the characters to give big, clear explanations of the recent plot at convenient intervals.

Another good thing is that the audiobook is truly unabridged – it contains readings of the appendices and the author’s note (it’s a shame that the author could not read this himself.)

The narrator does a good job overall, with a wide range of accents.  His main character sounds just like Michael Caine, which is not a surprise.  The narration is a good match for the text, which is reassuring –  a while back I tried listening to the audio version of Bomber (another Deighton story) and was put off by the narration. There are a lot of characters in that book and it needed a cast of narrators rather than just the one.  No such problems here, although this is a much simpler story.

If you want to check out this series, this is a good place to start.

Also see on Spare Cycles:

Len Deighton books

• Funeral in Berlin (film)

Billion Dollar Brain

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Spy



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