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Publisher's Summary

The classic spy thriller of lethal computer-age intrigue and a maniac's private cold war, featuring the same anonymous narrator and milieu of The Ipcress File.

The fourth of Deighton's novels to be narrated by the unnamed employee of WOOC(P) is the thrilling story of an anti-communist espionage network owned by a Texan billionaire, General Midwinter, run from a vast computer complex known as the Brain. After having been recruited by Harvey Newbegin, the narrator travels from the bone-freezing winter of Helsinki, Riga, and Leningrad, to the stifling heat of Texas, and soon finds himself tangling with enemies on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

©2014 HarperCollins Publishers Limited (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic Reviews

"Dazzlingly intelligent and subtle." ( Sunday Times)
"Such credibility, such accurate line-by-line beaming of a sheer sense of the actual…a glittering, wintry entertainment." ( The Guardian)
"Worthy of Raymond Chandler…intelligent…inventive…constantly entertaining." ( Sunday Telegraph)

What listeners say about Billion-Dollar Brain

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    5 out of 5 stars

Wish I Could Write Like This

Really, Deighton's Harry Palmer novels are something else, like tropical atolls in a leaden sea. Compared to the norm of the last 50 years or so of thriller, spy, mystery etc efforts which drift between the deadly self-important 'authentic' or 'quasi-historical' novels set in various decades and eras and the soap opera police anti-hero melodramas which include Lee Child's Reacher series and Deighton's Bernard Samson trilogies, these four novels written in the 60s and 70s are so alive in their language, amusing, witty, inventive in style, almost lyrical in their quick shorthand descriptive passages, engaging in the hero's three-dimensional character and those of the other members of his universe that I sincerely wonder why LD ever bothered to write in any other way. As I listen I smile, chuckle, laugh, muse, nod, admire and enjoy the clever smooth narrative. More than once I have thought 'I wish I could write like this...' In a weird way they remind me of PG Wodehouse's works... I see that there are very few reviews and probably few listeners to these books, maybe because they are 'dated' (they're not unless good writing itself is 'dated') or because of the movies that were made from their plots, or because LD moved onto more serious fiction and lost this really delightful skill he had to please and entertain and even uplift while being flippant and amusing. I recommend all the books starting with the Ipcress File and wish to say that the narrator really makes these a very unique and enjoyable experience. I've seen some reviews that criticize him for using a 'Michael Caine' voice - actually I cant imagine these stories narrated any other way.

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  • Paula McMullan
  • 02-18-20

Very disappointing

This would have been so much better if the narrator haven't tried to mimic Michael Caine. His halting narrative was really irritating which is a shame because his characterisation in dialogue was great. The story itself was very boring and I didn't care about any of the characters! Such a shame because Len Deighton's later work is exceptional.

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  • mcfontaine
  • 10-16-20

Brilliant

As with the others in this series, this is so much better and the story much more interesting than the film.

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  • Stephen
  • 10-24-18

of its time and still timeless

surprised me as the strongest of the original 4 Harry Palmer books. I didn't think I was going to enjoy it as much as the movie had prepared me for a James Bond pastiche but just like the Bond books aren't like their movies, neither is this. The plot, such that it is, provides an excuse for meditations on nationalism, idealism, reactionary conservatism, patriotism gone wrong, capitalism and communism, the longing for lost youth. Vivid depictions of scene and location and details and various favourite themes of Deighton's. The reading is great, though there's an editing glitch where occasionally the same phrase is repeated but it didn't detract for me

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  • A. Curtis
  • 08-16-17

Cold War Masterpiece

If you could sum up Billion-Dollar Brain in three words, what would they be?

Classic, soviet, gripping

What was one of the most memorable moments of Billion-Dollar Brain?

Any times our hero talks to the Russian General is fantastic

What about James Lailey’s performance did you like?

Perfect. Loved the Michael Caine style voice of course, but all the characters are so well done. Brilliant.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It's not very emotional although there is a lot of loyalty in question

Any additional comments?

The best of the series for me. The locations and story is very very good. Love the characters in this one. Very well written as you would expect. And some good old fashioned Cold War spy craft. Loved this book.

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  • A Descendant of Scotsmen
  • 01-06-19

Dated? Possibly, but a good tale nonetheless

Although the technology dates the story, and human interactions stand the test of time and our nameless hero again navigates the cold war minefield of exactly who is loyal to who...?