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Publisher's Summary

Len Deighton's classic first novel, whose protagonist is a nameless spy - later christened Harry Palmer and made famous worldwide in the iconic 1960s film starring Michael Caine. The Ipcress File was not only Len Deighton's first novel, it was his first best seller and the story that broke the mould of thriller writing.

For the working class narrator, an apparently straightforward mission to find a missing biochemist becomes a journey to the heart of a dark and deadly conspiracy. The film of The Ipcress File gave Michael Caine one of his first and still most celebrated starring roles, while the novel itself has become a classic.

©2014 Len Deighton (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic Reviews

"A spy story with a difference." (Observer)
"A masteroffictional espionage." (Daily Mail)
"The poet of the spy story.' Sunday Times‘The Ipcress File helped change the shape of the espionage thriller... the prose is still as crisp and fresh as ever... there is an infectious energy about this book which makes it a joy to read, or re-read." (Daily Telegraph)
"The self-conscious cool of Deighton's writing has dated in the best way possible... a stone-cold cold war classic." (Guardian)
"Deighton is so far in the front of other writers in the field that they are not even in sight'" (Sunday Times)
"Nobody now seriously doubts that Deighton is the most credible of all the spysmiths" (The Scotsman)
"Regarded as the cold war spy thriller that made all subsequent examples of the genre possible... however much of a classic the film is, the book is a completely different proposition. It's more intricate and far superior... a must for anyone who likes this kind of fiction." (Loaded)

What members say

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  • H. Tollyfield
  • 04-05-14

A great classic

This is not a book for listening to when you're going to sleep as you have to pay attention to the detail of this complex plot, but it is a rewarding listen. There is far more to this story than was included in the film. For anyone who remembers the 60's it takes you back to the atmosphere of the time, both in terms of lifestyle and the ever present cold war paranoia. It is very well read by James Lailey who, I'm pleased to say, doesn't attempt to imitate Michael Caine, but does give the hero the right working class voice - essential in a story which is as much about the overturning of the upper class establishment as it is about the world of spies and spying.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-27-14

Superb!

What did you like most about The Ipcress File?

Cracking story well read.

What other book might you compare The Ipcress File to, and why?

Similar to the best of John le Carre. Same subtlety, good writing and non-heroic hero.

What does James Lailey bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

His reading did make me smile with its hint of Michael Caine who played the main character in the film.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

It's not really that kind of book.

Any additional comments?

I've read this book before and seen the film and I never tire of it. I shall give it a few years and listen again.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • A. Curtis
  • 06-26-17

Brilliant narrated classic

Would you listen to The Ipcress File again? Why?

A very stylish, very well written Cold War thriller. It's so well narrated that I would certainly listen again

What did you like best about this story?

I really love the way conversation is written. And the very vivid 1960's London.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

I really loved any time the narrator (Harry Palmer!) talks to Ross.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

It's not an emotional book, but draws you in.

Any additional comments?

Wonderful Cold War book, full of little comments and styles of the day. It has a lovely clash with the public school old guard and the cheeky smart working class Harry. Also, the narrator on this book does a fantastic job, it's Michael Caine enough, but not a copy. Plus the other characters are wonderfully read. Really enjoyable spy drama.

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  • R. Hunter
  • 03-08-16

Good but convoluted.

Good story but difficult to follow and very convoluted. Great narration though and the book is quite engaging. Deightons SSGB is a better read.