The Ipcress File: A Hard-Boiled British Espionage Thriller


If you’re a fan of espionage thrillers, The Ipcress File is a must-read. Set in the early days of the Cold War, this hard-boiled British thriller tells the story of Harry Palmer, an unassuming intelligence agent who finds himself caught up in a deadly game of cat and mouse. With its fast-paced action and razor-sharp dialogue, The Ipcress File is sure to keep you glued to your seat until the very end. Recognized as a modern classic, ‘The Ipcress File is a prominent piece of British literature and was made into a film of the same name with Michael Caine in the lead role. 

In many respects, ‘The Ipcress File is a classic for two reasons. Firstly, it’s set on the eve of the Cold War: during this period espionage was at its height, and no one did it better than Britain. Secondly, its plot is one of those classics that will keep you turning the pages until the book’s very end.

Do you know about the release date of The Ipcress File Series:

This series will be released on 6 March 2022. Also, the series has been released on Kindle. In The Ipcress File, Harry Palmer is a brilliant, if under-stated, MI6 agent. He is an expert at his job and knows exactly when to apply pressure. But first and foremost, he loves his work, particularly the excitement of living by the seat of your pants.

But Palmer has unfinished business from the Second World War that cannot be allowed to go unpunished. Besides which as you know from reading this introduction and the blurb on the cover Palmer has a special gift: namely, an ability to tell when people are lying.

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Here is the plot of The Ipcress File Series discussed:

The plot of The Ipcress File is both lively and intelligent, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you glued to your seat until the very end. It tells the tale of an ex-criminal from London’s East End whose latent criminal instincts come to the fore during his time as an MI6 agent. His name is Harry Palmer and he is employed by Britain’s special spy service MI6, alongside his older compatriot Stafford “Old Stoneface” Smith. 

Palmer works for an outfit called the Ministry of War, a small department within the Secret Service, under Colonel Ross. In The Ipcress File first published in 1962, Harry Palmer is our hero, in possession of a strange gift that allows him to know when someone else is lying.

The Name of Cast & Characters of The Ipcress File Series:

  • Joe Cole · Harry Palmer
  • Lucy Boynton · Jean Courtney 
  • Tom Hollander · Major Dalby 
  • Ashley Thomas · Paul Maddox 
  • Paul Higgins · Minister

What inspired Len Deighton to write The Ipcress File series of novels in the first place?

The series is inspired by my own life. Certainly the central character of Harry’s character, I think, is based on me. For the years I worked in the private office at GCHQ, where Harry Palmer works in The Ipcress File. I was in that office many years before was a very exciting and heady time because we were often dealing with top-level intelligence issues. This was when the Cold War was at its height, and there was a lot of activity going on between the Soviet Union and America over what to do about it. The world is quite a different place now, but there is still an ongoing confrontation between the two great powers.

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Why was Harry Palmer chosen as the main character for the series?

Harry Palmer was chosen because he was the only character I could think of who knew how to lie. Everybody else in the story is there because of their particular talents or qualities. The other characters are all professional spies or are in some way involved with the business of spying. As far as Harry Palmer is concerned, he knows what’s going on because he can always tell a lie correctly. 

What was it like working with the master of espionage thriller fiction, John Le Carré?

I worked well with John Le Carré because he wrote out some story outlines for me and I used them to write the script of The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. It wasn’t an easy job but I was up to it and it was an interesting process working with someone who has such a great reputation in that particular field as well as other fields in which he has written many other books.

What made you choose spies as the theme of your series?

I had been interested in espionage stories since childhood when I started reading books like Her Majesty’s Secret Service and The Scarlet Pimpernel, detective stories with a secret society or organization at its heart. It appealed to me then, and it still does. 


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