Samson_Bernard9 Samson_Bernard7 Samson_Bernard6 Samson_Bernard1 Samson_Bernard9999 Samson_Bernard5 Samson_Bernard2 Samson_Bernard3 Samson_Bernard4 Samson_Bernard8
Full Name: Bernard Samson
Nationality: British
Organization: British Secret Service
Occupation Agent

Creator: Len Deighton
Time Span: 1983 - 1996


Bernard Samson is a spy for MI-6.

He has been one for most of his adult life. He is intelligent, though not considered exceptionally bright. He is very good at his job, though he is routinely dismissed by peers and seniors. He is a devoted family man, though his wife left them all and he has since had an affair. As can be seen, Samson is a contradiction on many fronts, which makes him understandable and quite believable.

The Samson saga is told in three sets of trilogies.

Game, Set, and Match: this three-book story tells of Samson's chance to rise far higher in the Service only to see that chance destroyed as his wife is revealed as a traitor who has fled to Moscow and Samson is shown to be either duplicitous or stupid. Reeling with the betrayal, he struggles to retain at least some dignity.

Hook, Line, and Sinker: this set of three reveals the agony and tribulations that befall Samson as he begins to learn the truth behind his wife's actions but must still get on with his own life. Torn between wanting the old back as it was and knowing that he must really make the best with what he has left, Samson has even more trouble finding his wife isn't a traitor as he did when everyone thought she was.

Faith, Hope, and Charity: with the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of that Cold War, the sense of loss of purpose and the wondering as to where to go from there in the new world leaves everyone shellshocked. But there are still questions unanswered and the desire to know the truth clashes with those who would rather forget the old days. But chief among the issues is the question, what does a warrior do when the war is over?


Number of Books:10
First Appearance:1983
Last Appearance:1996

0 Winter: A Novel Of A Berlin Family Winter: A Novel Of A Berlin Family
Written by Len Deighton
Copyright: 1987

Connected to the Samson set of adventures is the sweeping novel of two brothers caught in the increasing madness that is pre-WWII Germany. More importantly, it depicts the situation with Bernard Samson 's father, what happened to him and why, and shows how this affected Samson the rest of his life.

1 Berlin Game Berlin Game
Written by Len Deighton
Copyright: 1983

The signal comes from East Germany that the British' best asset wants out. Bernard Samson, who is handling the man, heads there to arrange his travel but there is a mole in London which is determined to see the assignment fail.

2 Mexico Set Mexico Set
Written by Len Deighton
Copyright: 1985

With his own career in a shambles due to the actions of his wife, Bernard Samson is finally given a chance to redeem himself. He is sent to Mexico City to turn a KGB major.

3 London Match London Match
Written by Len Deighton
Copyright: 1985

Even as Bernard Samson works to solidify his control over the turned KGB agent, events are unfolding which put into question how authentic is the agent and how much is being controlled from Moscow.

4 Spy Hook Spy Hook
Written by Len Deighton
Copyright: 1988

Millions of British pounds has suddenly gone missing. Was it mislaid or stolen. If the latter, was the thief a member of British Intelligence or a KGB agent? Bernard Samson is the unfortunate man told to track down the money and find the answer.

5 Spy Line Spy Line
Written by Len Deighton
Copyright: 1989

His thanks for succeeding too well on his previous assignment is to find there is a warrant for his arrest. Fleeing to Berlin to be free long enough to figure what is happening, Bernard Samson learns his wife who had defected a few years before was really a double agent.

6 Spy Sinker Spy Sinker
Written by Len Deighton
Copyright: 1990

Told from a third-person perspective unlike the other books in the series, this volume recounts all the major events of the first five but from a far more impartial and informed position than Bernard Samson was able to provide. The rising of Samson's career followed by its fall are reconstructed.

7 Faith Faith
Written by Len Deighton
Copyright: 1994

Bernard Samson's life seems in even more disarray now that his wife is back than it ever was. Pulled from a California assignment for a thankless job in Germany, he is the chief scapegoat when that assignment goes terribly wrong through no fault of his.

8 Hope Hope
Written by Len Deighton
Copyright: 1995

As the Berlin Wall crumbles, Bernard Samson sees the Department he has worked for also go through a serious decline with a power struggle for leadership and a dwindling budget, leaving the question whether there is a spot for Samson in the new order.

9 Charity Charity
Written by Len Deighton
Copyright: 1996

In the conclusion of the Samson saga, Bernard Samson is trying to piece together the reason his sister-in-law, Tessa, was killed in Berlin during the final days of Fiona's mission. It made no sense for her to die unless there was more to the Fiona story than he knew.


Number of Episodes:13
First Appearance:1988
Last Appearance:1988

Ian HolmBernard Samson [ 1 ]
Mel MartinFiona Samson [ 1 ]
Michael CulverDicky Cruyer [ 1 ]
Michael DegenWerver Volkmann [ 1 ]
Anthony BateBret Renssalaer [ 1 ]
Frederick TrevesFrank Harrington [ 1 ]

In 1988, Granada Television produced a 13-episode rendition of the first Bernard Samson trilogy, Game, Set, and Match. It was fairly expensive by contemporary standards but did not fare well in the ratings. The critics, from what I read, were favorable and Ian Holm must have made a very good Bernard Samson as he does everything superbly.

1 Berlin Game: Part 1 of 5
Episode 1-1, first aired 10/03/1988
Director: Ken Grieve
Writer: John Howlett

Samson has made a new life in London after his unfortunate experience which ended his Berlin days.

2 Berlin Game: Part 2 of 5
Episode 1-2, first aired 10/03/1988
Director: Ken Grieve
Writer: John Howlett

Someone is out to destroy Samson's Brahms network and Samson returns to Berlin to find out who.

3 Berlin Game: Part 3 of 5
Episode 1-3, first aired 10/10/1988
Director: Patrick Lau
Writer: John Howlett

With difficulty, Samson is finally able to figure out who the mole in the Foreign Office is.

4 Berlin Game: Part 4 of 5
Episode 1-4, first aired 10/17/1988
Director: Patrick Lau
Writer: John Howlett

As he confronts the mole, Samson is having to deal with other matters back in Berlin.

5 Berlin Game: Part 5 of 5
Episode 1-5, first aired 10/24/1988
Director: Ken Grieve
Writer: John Howlett

With the death of the suspected mole, evidence now arises that there is a traitor in MI6 and the KGB is doing everything it can to safeguard their asset.

6 Mexico Set: Part 1 of 5
Episode 1-6, first aired 10/31/1988
Director: Ken Grieve
Writer: John Howlett

Samson's career is all but finished now that his wife is revealed to be the traitor. But then a KGB officer in Mexico wants to defect and Samson is sent to vet him.

7 Mexico Set: Part 2 of 5
Episode 1-7, first aired 11/07/1988
Director: Patrick Lau
Writer: John Howlett

Given a chance to show he still can be a quality operative, Samson is determined to conclude the KGB defection from Mexico.

8 Mexico Set: Part 3 of 5
Episode 1-8, first aired 11/14/1988
Director: Ken Grieve
Writer: John Howlett

As he tries to resurrect his career, Samson must deal with his father-in-law's attempt to legal take his children.

9 Mexico Set: Part 4 of 5
Episode 1-9, first aired 11/21/1988
Director: Patrick Lau
Writer: John Howlett

There seems less and less people Samson can trust and no one he can reliably turn to for help.

10 Mexico Set: Part 5 of 5
Episode 1-10, first aired 11/28/1988
Director: Ken Grieve
Writer: John Howlett

Stinnes is ready to go from Mexico, or is he? That is what send Samson there to end the whole business.

11 London Match: Part 1 of 3
Episode 1-11, first aired 12/05/1988
Director: Ken Grieve
Writer: John Howlett

Back in Berlin, Samson is again looking for a traitor in his group.

12 London Match: Part 2 of 3
Episode 1-12, first aired 12/12/1988
Director: Patrick Lau
Writer: John Howlett

It is the job of Samson and Gloria to watch Stinnes as he may or may not be a true defector.

13 London Match: Part 3 of 3
Episode 1-13, first aired 12/19/1988
Director: Ken Grieve
Writer: John Howlett

Samson has a plan to unveil the true traitor and see once and for all if Stinnes is telling the truth.


This is not a series for the light-hearted nor those wanting guns blazing, bombs erupting, and beautiful sexy women. This is a dirty business filled with deceit, back-stabbing, loss of honor and loss of hope. It is as fascinating as it is demoralizing.

Through the narrative of Samson, the reader cannot help but go through the same pangs of angst, despair, and the almost touchable need to something to cling on to. Not since LeCarre's Spy Who Came In From The Cold have I felt such intense anger at a set of characters as I did at the end of the first book and that fervor didn't lighten for a while. Finally it seemed to ebb, leaving the same sort of malaise I think Samson was feeling. What now? What else can go wrong?

There are elements I still find disquieting or confusing. The character of Fiona, the wife who leaves her children and her husband and her country to defect to Russia, only to have it revealed that it was all a plant. But who could abandon them in the first place? And who could, upon returning, expect to be welcomed with open arms? And who could, after betraying her husband, resent it if he found solace in another's arms?

But then, after asking myself those questions several times, it occurred to me that whatever the author was intending, he had me thinking and thinking and thinking about the characters and events long after I had closed the pages of the last book.

If that isn't incredible genius, I don't know what it.

I would never put Samson at the top of the heap of best agents, as I would Quiller and Smiley. But I put these books there just for the power they possess.


My Grade: A+

Your Average Grade:   A+


Sir Gerald A+ 5/9/2012 5:10:38 PM

This series is Deighton's masterwork. Nowhere has the duplicity of espionage and it's effect on those who play the most dangerous game been better portrayed and across three trilogies that retained a quality only equalled by a handfull of his contemporaries . The ensemble cast of characters are to die for and Sampson makes for a deeply sympathetic, likeable and witty protagonist. The UK TV interpretation of Game, Set & Match was awfull. Deighton hated it and with considerable justification. One day somebody may do these characters justice on the big screen - what a treat that would be!

zulutime A+ 1/24/2013 9:39:12 AM

More literary than spy thriller. At times the books drag until the last third of the book, then, good stuff.

mhyoung A+ 9/21/2014 6:23:07 AM

Loved these books. Read them all as soon as they came out. Your assessment is spot on, not flashy in the least, but gritty as hell. These book are really only for true fans of genre!

StevePage A+ 2024-07-02

Magnificent and beautifully written. Plots and action are there in abundance, but it was the subtext – the domestic issues and career politicking - that engaged and enthralled me throughout. I read all 9 (10 if you include a magnificent prequel) and my appetite never wavered or diminished. I just wish there were more. Len Deighton is a true giant of the genre.

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