Len Deighton is a fascinating figure, with a surprisingly broad set of publications to his name: he has written several cookery books, some respected works of military history, but it is his espionage fiction for which he is best known. Cinema fans will know of his gritty, down-to-earth spy, Harry Palmer (iconically played by Michael Caine) in films like The Ipcress File, but he also wrote a magisterial sequence of Cold War novels around the protagonist Bernard Samson. Another notable novel is his counterfactual book SS-GB, a celebrated precursor of books like Robert Harris’ Fatherland and C J Sansom’s Dominion.

Deighton did his national service in the RAF and then graduated from the Royal College of Art to become a book and magazine illustrator.