Today it is my great pleasure to join the tour for Ungentlemanly Warfare, the latest release from author Howard Linskey and No Exit Press. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for including me in the tour. I have a great guest post from Howard Linskey to share with you all, but first, let’s take a look at what it’s all about:
About the Book
A soldier and a spy, an officer but not quite a gentleman, Captain Harry Walsh is SOE’s secret weapon.Available From: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Playstore | Apple Books
Loathed by his own commanding officer, haunted by the death of his closest friend and trapped in a loveless marriage, Harry Walsh is close to burn out when he is ordered to assassinate the man behind the ME 163 Komet, Hitler’s miracle jet fighter. If Walsh fails, there is no prospect of allied victory in Europe.
Harry Walsh is ruthless, unorthodox and ungentlemanly. He is about to wreak havoc…
Ungentlemanly Warfare is a captivating historical thriller about a pivotal and dramatic event from the second world war.
Secrets, soldiers, spies and the James Bond connection
By Howard Linskey
I’m taking a break from crime fiction to go a little further back in time. My new book ‘Ungentlemanly Warfare’ is set in 1943 and is the story of allied agents from the fabled SOE, as they undertake a mission to damage the German war machine. Though the main characters are fictional, I’ve included a number of supporting characters who served with the Special Operations Executive in real life and it was fun to blur the lines between fact and fiction.
The story came about when I was researching my book ‘Hunting the Hangman’; the true story of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the architect of the Holocaust, in Prague in 1942. His killers, Jan Kubis, a Czech, and Joseph Gabcik, a Slovak, were both soldiers but they were trained in the art of unconventional warfare by the British SOE. I read a lot of books detailing the secret work and unorthodox methods of an organisation created by Winston Churchill to ‘set Europe ablaze’ and nicknamed the ‘Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare’. They selected and trained volunteers to become agents who would work with resistance fighters, to carry out all kinds of dangerous missions behind enemy lines, including sabotage, ambushes and assassinations, to disrupt the German war effort.
My research also uncovered a less well-known aspect of the SOE’s history; the James Bond connection. Some of the real-life supporting cast of Ungentlemanly Warfare are, almost literally, right out of James Bond. Ian Fleming worked in Naval Intelligence during the Second World war, for Admiral Godfrey, who he later based James Bond’s boss ‘M’ on. Members of the SOE were to provide Fleming with inspiration for some of his most famous creations.
Elder Wills was a pre-War film maker, a veteran of WW1, who was also wounded in action at Dunkirk. He went on to run the ‘Thatched Barn’, aka Station XV of the Inter Services Research Bureaux in Borehamwood. They created ingenious camouflage, explosives and communications devices for SOE agents. Elder Wills became the model for 007’s quartermaster, ‘Q’.
Vera Atkins was another inspiration of Ian Fleming’s, who said ‘In the real world of spies, Vera Atkins was the boss’. The intelligence officer from F Section of the SOE is often considered to be the real Miss Moneypenny but she was far more impressive than her fictional counterpart, who wistfully sent James Bond on missions from behind a desk. Atkins could fly, shoot, ride and was as daring and ruthless as any man. She had a talent for recruiting female agents and, when the war was over, went into France to discover the fates of the many left unaccounted for, to ensure they and their contributions were never forgotten.
Like the fictional Emma Stirling in ‘Ungentlemanly Warfare’, Christine Granville was an SOE agent who undertook extremely dangerous work behind enemy lines. Incredibly, Granville even managed to bluff the enemy into releasing three male comrades scheduled for execution, by walking straight into enemy headquarters and threatening terrible retribution at the hands of a lynch mob once the allied forces reached them. Her many daring exploits earned her the George Medal and she was cited as the inspiration for Vesper Lynd in the first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, published in 1953.
Kim Philby was the most famous and damaging of the Cambridge Spies; moles planted deep into the heart of British Intelligence by the KGB. Philby was yet to achieve infamy during the Second World War and fictional OSS agent Sam Cooper meets him during one of his famed lectures at the SOE ‘finishing school’ in Beaulieu, on the art of clandestine propaganda. Philby was perhaps too normal a figure to inspire a Bond villain but he did become the model for Bill Haydon in John Le Carre’s wonderful book ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’.
Into this very real world of soldiers, spies and moles, I have pitched SOE agents Captain Harry Walsh and Emma Stirling, as well as the American, Sam Cooper, and Free French fighter, Christophe Valvert. Their task is to prevent the fictional Professor Gaerte from perfecting the very real Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, rocket-powered fighter plane, which was one of Hitler’s ‘miracle weapons’. The team must kill Professor Gaerte but he is protected by a battle-hardened company of enemy soldiers at all times. Harry Walsh could be forgiven for considering this assignment little more than a suicide mission. In fact, it almost sounds like a job for 007.
Thanks to Howard Linskey there. It’s amazing what you find out whilst doing a touch of research. I’m really looking forward to reading the book over the summer and if you’d like a copy for yourself, check out the handy buying links just below the blurb. They’ll see you right.
About the Author
Howard Linskey is the author of four other novels published by No Exit Press, including the David Blake crime series, The Drop, The Damage and The Dead. The Drop was voted one of the Top Five Thrillers of the Year by The Times. The Damage was voted one of The Times‘ Top Summer Reads. He is also the author Hunting the Hangman, a historical thriller set in WW2 about the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in Prague. His new novel Ungentlemanly Warfare features SOE agents Harry Walsh and Emma Stirling, as well as American OSS agent Sam Cooper. Howard is also the author of four books published by Penguin; including No Name Lane, Behind Dead Eyes, The Search and The Chosen Ones in a crime series set in the north east of England. Originally from Ferryhill in County Durham, he now lives in Hertfordshire with his wife Alison and daughter Erin.