Best 1962 Adventures (4)
August 31, 2017
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1962 adventure novels. Happy 55th anniversary!
Len Deighton’s espionage adventure The IPCRESS File.
Readers complain that this is a confusing adventure, which it is — but that’s very much on purpose, as Deighton is self-consciously having fun with the conventions of the genre. His protagonist is nameless; and the British intelligence agency for which he works, WOOC(P), might as well be, since we never discover what the acronym stands for. Even the titular file’s name is an acronym for an absurd phrase: “Induction of Psycho-neuroses by Conditioned REflex with Stress.” Influential Brits are being kidnapped, including a scientist code-named Raven; our spy — let’s call him Harry, as someone mistakenly does here — attempts to negotiate for the release of Raven, unsuccessfully. Agents are killed, but not the agents Harry thought. Harry is approached by his old boss from military intelligence, who attempts to sell him information. There’s an American neutron bomb test in the Pacific, following which Harry himself is kidnapped and subjected to weeks of interrogation, brainwashing and torture. By whom? Is Harry’s own department the enemy? Are his enemies actually Britain’s allies?
Fun facts: The IPCRESS File is Deighton’s first spy novel. It was adapted in 1965 as a popular movie starring Michael Caine.
Let me know if I’ve missed any 1962 adventures that you particularly admire.