The Ipcress File

Narrated by: James Lailey
Length: 8 hrs and 46 mins
4.2 out of 5 stars (66 ratings)

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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 listeners say about The Ipcress File

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a really interesting take on a crime/spy novel

This is a really interesting take on crime and spy novels - where the narator takes you on a journey which you can't quite see - but often there are things which point the way. worth a listen

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Confusing at times

I enjoyed this book, for the most part. I like the spy thriller genre. The reader did a good job differentiating characters with changes in his voice and accent. However, the story was confusing at times largely because the author was so entertained, it seems, by slinging colloquial synonyms and metaphors very specific to the time and the popular culture of the period.

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A Really Good But At Times Confusing Spy Novel

This is a really good, debut spy novel authored by Len Deighton and published in the early 1960s. It was authored later than the early Ian Fleming novels, and I like it better, but it is more complicated. As an American, I sometimes was confused by the narrator who has, understandably, a British accent. I read along with the Kindle and was very glad that I did so. A lot of this would have been lost on me. This is not an easy read and often required my full attention. Thank You...

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enduring classic

great narrator. the story is a bit jumbled in parts and as an American some of the 60 British slang is hard to understand. But the story is excellent.

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  • SM
  • 12-01-18

A non-native English speaker would need subtitles

I think I missed 50% of the plot because of the narrator's efforts to imitate Michael Caine's accent.

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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.

5 people found this 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.

3 people found this 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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • mcfontaine
  • 10-11-20

So much better than the film.

There is so much more detail and sub-plots that are just missing from the films. These really fill out the plot brilliantly.

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  • Leon74
  • 06-09-20

Classic

Wonderful language. I liked the description of places more than the spy elements if I'm honest!

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  • G. Baird Old Bookshelf
  • 05-07-20

Great stuff

Fine rendition of an excellent story. Thought narrator did a good job, without 'over-Caineing' the accent.

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  • Fiona Boyle
  • 08-07-19

Enthralling

Twists and turns in a thrilling narrative which authentically describes the early 1960’s Intonations and accents by the reader brought the novel alive. One of the best narrators I’ve heard. Highly recommended.

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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.

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  • Harmie
  • 11-23-18

The ipcress file.

Unimpressed! The download failed to download correctly just as it did with Bomber. U will not be purchasing anymore books from this supplier ! I do not recommend at all totally ruined my pleasure! PANTS!!!!

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  • Craig
  • 04-10-20

Great story

This is a great story! The author's narrative voice is engaging, as is the narrator's rendition, though his accent is occasionally hard to understand. The plot line is compelling, though confusing in some places as to what is happening. To be honest, the appendices, which run on straight after the final chapter, detract from the story's finish, though the author's note is interesting. Still, this is a compelling and highly enjoyable story!