I described this book's predecessor, Berlin Game as "deeply, thorough competent" and I meant it in the highest possible terms (in the same way our protagonist might deploy 'competence', as a compliment of utmost order.) I finished that book a mere week ago, and now I've finished it's sequel, which tells you perhaps more than any prose about how similarly impressed I was.

It does a number of rare things for a sequel, chief among them elevate the base material rather than rehash it. The plot and mechanics of Mexico Set could not exist without what we know about its characters and world from Berlin Game; it trades the dreary, rain-soaked climes of Berlin for the hot, red, and dusty ones of Mexico (for the most part). It felt fresh and more propulsive; in a way, I was more entranced by not knowing where this plot was going than by the original's thorough pacing and plotting.

I cannot emphasize enough: as someone who hates sequels, who couldn't imagine the merit in this kind of book's existence, I was delighted. (And now, it's onto the third of the trilogy.)

A tiny postscript: one of the things I only realized a little bit after the fact was how much reading one of Deighton's novels is pleasurable in the same way as reading a Christie novel — both this book and its predecessor (and London Match, which of course I have already started) revolve around one big secret being uncovered in much the same way Poirot is trying to uncover the true culprit, and you get to hold onto disparate threads and see which ones are revealing and which ones are red herrings. But, like Christie, part of Deighton's mastery is that while there are characters you're not going to like, there are no out-and-out villains: everyone feels human, and no shifts in plot feel contrived or forced.



'He was a real Berliner,' I said. 'He ran the transport business like a despot. He knew the names of all his workers. He swore at them when he was angry and got drunk with them when there was something to celebrate. They invited him to their marriages and their christenings and he never missed a funeral. When the union organized a weekend outing each year they always invited him along.

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