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Funeral in Berlin (Secret File #3)

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,494 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
FUNERAL IN BERLIN is a spellbinding tale of espionage and its counter in which double and triple crosses are common. Berlin with its infamous wall symbolized the Cold War as did no other place. It was like theatre, but is war for real.

"Len Deighton has always been fascinated with the Cold War in a way that could be called always feels that the intricacies o
Published (first published 1964)
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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréThe Bourne Identity by Robert LudlumThe Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le CarréThe Hunt for Red October by Tom ClancyThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
Best Spy Novels
188th out of 829 books — 1,475 voters
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le CarréTinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick ForsythThe Bourne Identity by Robert LudlumThe Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
158th out of 696 books — 810 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Russ Melrose
Jul 14, 2015 Russ Melrose rated it it was amazing
I quite enjoyed this Len Deighton novel. I had seen the Harry Palmer movies starring Michael Caine (Funeral in Berlin and The Ipcress File) way back when and loved them. So I thought I'd give the novels a try. Glad I did. The writing is sharp and witty and Deighton's style is quite unique.

Funeral in Berlin is a spy novel set in the '60s. Of course, if you're looking for a spy or secret agent in the James Bond mold, you won't find him here. The novel centers around a proposed smuggling of a scien
Aug 05, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-white-square
This was fun! Deighton overcooked at times – "we get it! Hallam's tight!" - but always enjoyable and not, thankfully, horribly confusing.

Additional excitement#1: a previous owner of my copy had used their 1/3d ticket for London bus route 137 as a bookmark.

Additional excitement#2: someone has scribbled out the name of the fireworks company on p. 232. I understand from wikipedia that there was a court case and this paragraph was removed from later editions.

"He was a big-boned man, his hair was cr
Jan 16, 2015 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spy, thriller
I enjoyed this story. In some aspects, I had no idea what was going on, but at the same time, it didn't matter. This is a Cold War spy mystery, that meanders along to its ending but is so well-written, that it was a pleasure to read. The basic premise is that the main character, Harry Salzman, a British operative, is in Berlin trying to arrange for the smuggling of a British scientist from the East through the Berlin wall back to the West. But that is the story at its simplest. The tale wanders ...more
Simon Mcleish
Feb 10, 2013 Simon Mcleish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in January 2004.

Because it is the main focus of the Bernard Samson novels, Berlin might appear to be something of an obsession with Deighton. It actually features remarkably rarely in his other novels, particularly considering its unique position during the Cold War as a bastion of the West surrounded by the Soviet bloc. It does, however, feature heavily in the third Harry Palmer novel, as the title obviously indicates.

The plot of Funeral in Berlin is apparen
Sairam Krishnan
Feb 01, 2014 Sairam Krishnan rated it really liked it
A sparkling, racy, supersmart cold war spy story that packs more than a punch. Len Deighton is an acclaimed historian, and Funeral in Berlin owes much of its smart-as-hell real life references & accurate sense of time to that fact.

I enjoyed it immensely and I think this book has brought me back full circle to my old love for historically accurate and inspired genre novels. John Le' Carre, here I come again!
Dec 07, 2014 Barry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-misc
The saving grace of this book is Mr. Deighton's sense of humor. Really, it is the biggest reason to read this book. Dry, snappy, and very reminiscent of Joseph Heller, the humor makes it an entertaining book to read. The plot is okay, but I found it rather difficult to piece together exactly what was happening until dozens of pages later. Effectively, my understanding of the book was 20 or 30 pages behind where I was reading. Mr. Deighton seems to have had a desire to spring surprises slyly and ...more
May 26, 2009 Simon rated it it was amazing
I think this is the second of Len Deighton's spy novels that revolve around an unamed spy (he was given the name Harry Palmer in the films with Michael Caine).

Our hero is given an assignment that on the face of it is to bring a Soviet defector over to the west. Set in cold war era London, Berlin, Prague and the Franco Spanish borders what should have been a straight forward exctraction turns into a triple cross involving the MI6, KGB, MOSSAD, the West Germnan secret service, Nazis and Swiss Bank
Aug 16, 2014 James rated it really liked it
A first class stylised spy thriller that brings cold war intelligence work in Europe (esp. Berlin) to life. One thing this book has, which always pleases me as a reader, is multi dimensional characters who act intelligently and, in this case, with the sly cunning a reader wants from professional intelligence agency operatives. If – like me – you are not a secret service agent (or a smarty pants), the expediency of these decisions is sometimes only apparent once the bigger picture is revealed; De ...more
Mar 17, 2012 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I read this book whenever I have the flu. I love it. And I don't like the others of these series much at all. I first read it when I was twelve and fell in love with Deighton's light touch, and the narration is wonderfully wry. I adore Stok as much as Palmer, btw.

Occured to me that this is one of the important existential novels of the sixities. Sorry Sartre
Tom Greer
Nov 08, 2014 Tom Greer rated it really liked it
Funeral in Berlin is the second in the "Harry Palmer" trilogy and is perhaps the best as it's more believable than The Ipcress File or Billion Dollar Brain.

Deighton's writing here is well crafted and the Berlin scenes, both East and West, are well drawn and come to life.

Feb 01, 2011 John rated it it was amazing
A superior espionage thriller. Packed full of convincing detail and dry wit. A dense plot, but not so overwhelming that you'll get lost in it. Len Deighton's nameless protagonist is more charming than James Bond, just as smart as George Smiley and as cynical as a bullet in the back.
Vikas Datta
Jul 01, 2015 Vikas Datta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another gloriously bleak tale of espionage and its consequent deceptions and betrayals - and the continuing shadow of the Second World War and the Holocaust in the turbulent 1960s...
Apr 02, 2011 Alistair rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a spy classic. It's a clever read that will keep you thinking throughout. Small cheat since you never quite have enough information.

An enjoyable and quick read.
Jul 18, 2010 Aline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another re-read. Well written, with rich and often amusing descriptions, great eye for detail.Cold War era spy classic which stands up well 50 years on.
This was fun--zany, not as serious as the Samson works. And, the real mystery is revealed only at the end.
David Manns
Jun 02, 2015 David Manns rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
After the, in my opinion, somewhat pedestrian Horse Under Water, Deighton hits his stride with the third "Unnamed Spy" novel, Funeral In Berlin. Capturing perfectly the mid-sixties Cold War paranoia that affected all sides, Deighton sends his protagonist to secure the defection of a top Soviet scientist, Semitsa. But there is always more at play than a simple defection.

We are introduced to one of the great villains, Colonel Stok, who is playing his own game of chess with the West. Hallam, the Ho
Apr 21, 2015 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Αποστολή: Βερολίνο", εκδόσεις Τριάς.

Uber κλασικό κατασκοπευτικό μυθιστόρημα γραμμένο το 1964. Ενώ στην αρχή η υπόθεση φαίνεται εύκολη και απλή, μια μεταφορά ενός Ρώσου επιστήμονα από την Σοβιετική Ένωση, στο Ανατολικό Βερολίνο και μετά από κει στο Δυτικό Βερολίνο και έπειτα στο Λονδίνο, τελικά καταλήγει αλλού. Η όλη υπόθεση γίνεται περίπλοκη και ο αναγνώστης αφήνεται στον περίπλοκο κόσμο των κατασκόπων, του ψυχρού πολέμου, των κρυμμένων μυστικών, των παιχνιδιών εξουσίας, των διπλών πρακτόρων κα
Jul 06, 2014 Daniel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The third in Len Deighton's 'nameless spy' series provides more witty, well-written, spy action. I enjoyed it more than its predecessors; its highs are higher, though it sags a little in the middle. Colonel Stok and Hallam are great fun. The climactic scenes are the best Deighton has yet written, action-packed, laugh-out-loud funny and sad all at once.

Jean, such a good character in The IPCRESS File, is barely present, and might have been better served by being absent entirely.

Deighton exercises
Nov 03, 2012 Tbfrank rated it liked it
Nearly 50 years after it was written, this novel hardly shows its age. A few elements may appear dated but those can be attributed to the setting in time and place rather than style. The story meanders in the early sections which serves to make the plot more mysterious, so much so that at the end, it was necessary to recap the story to make sure the reader knew what it was all about. Deighton has a singular skill at crafting descriptive images which got in the way during the first half of the st ...more
Jul 24, 2008 Jason added it
I've had this book kicking around the shelves for awhile now I think because I had read Billion Dollar Brain somewhat recently. So I recently read a blog post from someone saying Funeral was an overlooked classic - therefore I dove right in.

I'm glad I did. Funeral In Berlin is one of Deighton's unnamed spy novels (Ipcress File, BDB, An Expensive Place To Die among others) many of which have been made into films starring Michael Caine as a spy named Harry Palmer. In this story our spy hero travel
Felix Hayman
Dec 05, 2012 Felix Hayman rated it really liked it
The transition from the post war spy of Ian Fleming's novels to the cold war spy of John Le Carre's has often been overlooked because the star of Len Deighton has faded far too quickl,yet Len Deighton's "Berlin" novels were some of the most popular spy thrillers in the 1960's. Why? It seems that Deighton was able to streamline Fleming's obviously antiquated (by 1960's standards) prose into a more action oriented style, without losing the sense of post war paranoia in and around the Eastern and W ...more
Mar 29, 2012 rabbitprincess rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Deighton
Shelves: bibliotheque, 2012
This is the third of Len Deighton's "nameless hero" books, although they can also be referred to as the "Harry Palmer" books, after Michael Caine's portrayal of the narrator. I had previously tried the first of these books, The Ipcress File, but wasn't engaging with it. This one was easier for me to get into, perhaps because I knew from the outset that the narrator would not be referred to by name, or perhaps the story was more interesting.

Our hero is tasked with arranging the defection of a Sov
Jan 24, 2008 Neil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best and worst part of this book was the narration. The recording wasn't great, and it was impossible at times to figure out what was being said. The narrator's British accent didn't help. That said, I loved the narrators accent and voice. His dry British accent complimented the book's dry sarcastic humor very well. It was incredibly easy to see him as the spy through whose eyes the story was told. The book had a way of keeping one step ahead of me the whole time - though it's possible that ...more
Nov 25, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This is a brainy thriller, first published in 1964. It is set in post-war Berlin, probably the 1960's. There is a complex tangle of secret agents from the US, England, Germany and Russia. All are participating in an elaborate chess game, but only one has an end game that is unknown to the reader. I might have been able to figure things out better if I had understood more of the chess references, but I muddled along alright. Fast paced and interesting with some witty repartee.
Frank Hickey
Feb 26, 2014 Frank Hickey rated it it was amazing

This book is a dense pleasure to read.

Deighton seems to enjoy tricking and confusing us. And this reader likes it.

There are so many parts to this book that you can discover on a re-reading.

This reader doubts that anyone could get everything from just one reading.

The plot twists wonderfully and the research is never boring.

Age does not hurt this book. It enhances it.

-----Frank Hickey, writer of the Max Royster crime novels through Pigtown Books.
Sean Brennan
Mar 19, 2014 Sean Brennan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
Along with Children's Literature, and The Whodunnit a genre where us Brits excel is the spy thriller. The aim of any great spy story which believe me this is one, is to leave The Reader completely confused, not sure what is going on, not know exactly who anybody is, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, and most importantly to credit The Reader with a modicum of intelligence, which sadly the majority of thriller writers today are either unwilling or simply unable to achieve. This is a ...more
I know I read this as a teenager, but I remembered almost nothing of it. My pick for a weekend in Berlin, read mostly in airports. The Berlin I visited is no longer divided, but it still gave me a kick to recognise the locations. Like The IPCRESS File, Funeral is full of black humour, triple crosses, and instant coffee.
Jan 05, 2016 Barbara rated it liked it
I think I missed something here. There were some good scenes and the characters were interesting, but it never felt "whole." I don't think I will read anything else by this author, which is a shame, because he seems to focus on times and locations which interest me.
Tim C
Jun 07, 2015 Tim C rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This book is sheer genius. Loved its succinct, atmospheric, terse style, and dry wit. Had no idea what was going on for the most part, which is exactly what makes all the subterfuge and counter-subterfuge of the plot progression so enthralling. A real 'page turner'. I couldn't put it down.
Peter McCambridge
Apr 11, 2016 Peter McCambridge rated it it was ok
I seem to be the only person on Goodreads who didn't love this. It just seems that Deighton really came into his own with the Bernard Samson series and he loses his way a little here. I stopped caring and got lost a lot in among occasional snatches of brilliance. The parts I enjoyed the most were the scenes that reminded me of the series to come. I loved the reading on Audible as usual.
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Goodreads Librari...: Alternate book cover 5 10 Aug 09, 2014 03:10AM  
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Deighton was born in Marylebone, London, in 1929. His father was a chauffeur and mechanic, and his mother was a part-time cook.After leaving school, Deighton worked as a railway clerk before performing his National Service, which he spent as a photographer for the Royal Air Force's Special Investigation Branch. After discharge from the RAF, he studied at St Martin's School of Art in London in 1949 ...more
More about Len Deighton...

Other Books in the Series

Secret File (7 books)
  • The Ipcress File (Secret File, #1)
  • Horse Under Water
  • Billion Dollar Brain
  • An Expensive Place to Die
  • Spy Story
  • Twinkle, Twinkle Little Spy

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