Ian Fleming in Modern Literature

The use of real life people in novels is common so it’s surprising how little Ian Fleming has turned up – that is until fairly recently. His most famous appearance was in Solo author William Boyd’s masterpiece, Any Human Heart – but is that it? Not quite, we did manage to find more:

Any Human Heart by William Boyd

77866Logan Mountstuart’s sorry tale is also the story of a British way of life in inexorable decline, as his journey takes in the Bloomsbury set, the General Strike, the Spanish Civil War, 1930s Americans in Paris, wartime espionage, New York avant garde art, even the Baader-Meinhof gang–all with a stellar supporting cast. He is a novelist in the Thirties, then a wartime spy with Ian Fleming, before becoming an art dealer in New York and then an elderly London anarchist.

William Boyd explained at ianfleming.com:

I then became very intrigued by Ian Fleming the man and have written about him on numerous occasions.  The fascination went so far that I placed him as a character in my novel Any Human Heart where he’s responsible for recruiting the novel’s protagonist, Logan Mountstuart, into the Naval Intelligence Division in World War II.

In the TV adaptation, Tobias Menzies played Ian Fleming.

Tobias Menzies as Ian Fleming.

Tobias Menzies as Ian Fleming.

Edward Biddulph wrote in more detail about Fleming’s appearances in his excellent post and pointed out:

Amusingly, William Boyd appears to make Mountstuart responsible for turning Fleming to writing. We learn in the same journal entry that Fleming asked Mountstuart about his writing after revealing, as was indeed the case, that he was unhappy being a stockbroker.

The House of Rumour by Jake Arnott

13608990-2Mixing the invented and the real, The House of Rumour explores WWII spy intrigue (featuring Ian Fleming), occultism (Aleister Crowley), the West Coast science-fiction set (Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and Philip K. Dick all appear), and the new wave music scene of the ’80s. The decades-spanning, labyrinthine plot even weaves in The Jonestown Massacre and Rudolf Hess, UFO sightings and B-movies.

A classified paper detailing a secret government operation in World War 2 to use black magic and astrology to lure Hitler’s second in command, Rudolf Hess, to leave Germany for Scotland is stolen by a transvestite prostitute in late 80s England from a retired spymaster. From there Arnott sends the reader back to the dark year of 1941 where the war was firmly in favour of the Nazis and a young Ian Fleming, commander in Naval Intelligence, utilised his contacts to arrange a meeting with Aleister Crowley, once known as “the wickedest man in the world”.

In The Quietus, Arnott explains his use of Fleming:

From the Crowley stuff I did in the last novel [The Devil’s Paintbrush] I came across the idea of Ian Fleming being involved in this strange plot, Operation Mistletoe, that still no one can get to the bottom of. Then through that I arrived at Katherine Burdekin and her strange novel Swastika Night– the first Nazi dystopia in novel form, really – where she talks about this Hess character coming to Scotland, and it’s written in 1937.

You Bet Your Life by Stuart Kaminsky

6868711940s Hollywood private eye Toby Peters returns—unfortunately, with an awful case of the flu. Peters is coughing and sniffling his way through the Chicago underworld in a desperate attempt to clear the name of Chico Marx, who is accused of owing $120,000 in gambling debts to the mob.

Things may be looking rough, but with the help of a few other tough guys who’re siding with him—Al Capone, Richard Daley, and Ian Fleming—Peters just may have a chance.

According to one reviewer, “there’s a wonderful sequence with Ian Fleming that’s worth the price of admission by itself.”

No Dawn for Men: A Novel of Ian Fleming, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Nazi Germany by James LePore

17707821In 1938, Nazi Germany prepares to extend its reach far beyond its borders. The key to domination lies in a secret that would make their army not only unbeatable, but un-killable. MI-6, knowing that something potentially devastating is developing, recruits scholar and novelist John Ronald Reuel Tolkien to travel to Germany to find out what this might be, using the German popularity of his children’s novel THE HOBBIT as cover.

Joining him there is MI-6 agent Ian Fleming, still years away from his own writing career but posing as a Reuters journalist. Together, Tolkien and Fleming will get to the heart of the secret – and they will face a fury greater than even their prodigious imaginations considered possible.

The author notes:

Ian Fleming was a Reuters correspondent in the thirties covering events in pre-war Europe. There is no record of his being in Berlin in 1938 but there is a consensus among his biographers that he was doing more than reporting, likely doing political and military assessments for MI-6. Tolkien was actually in the Somme offensive in WWI as a signalman, and did lose two very close friends there. Fleming’s dad, Valentine, was also in France in WWI.

The meeting between the two described in No Dawn’s prologue is fictional. The novel’s core, an adventure involving a powerful but very dangerous artifact, is wholly fictional, but gave Carlos and me a chance to have Tolkien and Fleming experience things that would one day end up in their work.

Too Bad to Die by Francine Mathews

Too Bad to DieA tense and enthralling historical thriller in which British Naval Intelligence officer Ian Fleming attempts to foil a Nazi plot to assassinate FDR, Churchill, and Stalin.

November, 1943. Weary of his deskbound status in the Royal Navy, intelligence officer Ian Fleming spends his spare time spinning stories in his head that are much more exciting than his own life…until the critical Tehran Conference, when Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Josef Stalin meet to finalize the D-Day invasion.

With the Big Three in one place, Fleming is tipped off that Hitler’s top assassin has infiltrated the conference. Seizing his chance to play a part in a real-life action story, Fleming goes undercover to stop the Nazi killer. Between martinis with beautiful women, he survives brutal attacks and meets a seductive Soviet spy who may know more than Fleming realizes. As he works to uncover the truth and unmask the assassin, Fleming is forced to accept that betrayal sometimes comes from the most unexpected quarters—and that one’s literary creations may prove eerily close to one’s own life.

A rousing adventure—not a pastiche of a Bond novel with Fleming substituted for 007, but rather a well-plotted military thriller with a story that feels like it could have happened. Mathews’ portrayal of Fleming feels dead-on accurate, and she has some fun showing us the (supposed) real-world origins of some of Bond’s fictional attributes. Another excellent blending of fact and fiction from the author of Jack 1939.

Honour Among Spies, Death to Spies and Siren Song by Quinn Fawcett

Quinn Fawcett is the pen name of a pair of authors, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Bill Fawcett.

quin-fawcettAfter years of serving in the intelligence community, Ian Fleming retired—and soon thereafter created James Bond, that debonair, dashing hero of countless novels and films.

But what if Fleming never really retired from spying? What if his position as an international journalist was really a cover for Cold War cat-and-mouse games?

Read more here.

…New Orleans in the late forties is a murky mixture of racism, voodoo, police corruption, and sexual profligacy. Fawcett, who also writes the Mycroft Holmes series, weaves an arresting fictional persona out of the raw material provided by the life of the James Bond creator. This series improves with each entry, in no small part thanks to the author’s uncanny ability to create a vivid sense of time and place. – Booklist

Clash in the Baltic and Assault on the Rock by Duncan Harding

hardingDuncan Harding was actually a pseudonym for Charles Whiting, who wrote an astonishing 350 books of fiction and non-fiction. These 2 books were from what are described as his Special Boat Service series, comprised of 16.

In Clash in the Baltic, in the last days of the World War II, Churchill orders Special Intelligence Service Commander Ian Fleming to mount a daring rescue mission to bring home the brave women of the Special Operation Executive caught behind enemy lines in the clutches of the fleeing German army.

In Assault on the Rock, hot-headed Catalan Pierre Cusi fought against the Fascists in Spain before joining the British Commandos. In 1941, Naval Intelligence Commander Ian Fleming (of James Bond fame) learns that Hitler wants Franco to help him invade Gibraltar and if the Rock goes, the whole of the Mediterranean will fall prey to the Axis. There’s only one chance: with his old crew of Catalan volunteers, Cusi must assassinate Franco . . .

The Ian Fleming Files by Damian Stevenson

IF-FilesThe Ian Fleming Files: Operation Armada follows Naval Commander Ian Fleming as he attempts to gain control, on behalf of the British Government, of the French Fleet after the German occupation of France during World War Two.

In The Ian Fleming Files: Operation Parsifal the story is set near the end of the war, in January 1945, and involves Fleming infiltrating a secret German society dedicated to assassinating Hitler and replacing him with Rommel. Fleming has to save Hitler’s life so the war can proceed in the Allies’ favour.

In Secret Service by Mitch Silver

mitch-silverAmy Greenberg, a young American academic, is summoned to Ireland to claim the contents of her grandfather’s safe deposit box. Her inheritance is the manuscript of a memoir by James Bond author Ian Fleming, containing information and accusations so confidential, so potentially explosive, that Amy soon discovers people on both sides of the Atlantic are willing to kill to maintain its secrecy.

The manuscript, detailing Fleming’s own involvement in British espionage during WWII, includes never-before-revealed elements of the well-known story that the Duke of Windsor was in a treasonous plot with Hitler. Amy finds herself in a race against time as she absorbs the ramifications of Fleming’s claims, which are documented by Army Intelligence orders, medical records, letters stolen from the British royal family, and even Christmas cards and a receipt from legendary Parisian jeweller Van Cleef & Arpels!

“A great thriller, worthy of Ian Fleming himself — and the story might ever be true.” -Lee Child, bestseller author of Tripwire

Death in the Face by Hector Lassiter

lassiterIan Fleming and Hector Lassiter: Novelists, ex-spies and, at last, lions in winter.  It’s 1963, and the future isn’t what it used to be. Lassiter senses the culture is slowly but surely shouldering him aside. Yet his friend Ian stands on the verge of unimaginable success as his long-running series of James Bond novels at last makes its way to the Silver Screen.

A dying man, Ian finds it harder to live the high-life necessary to feed his 007 page-turners, but the ex-spymaster pines for a last grand adventure. As Hector follows Ian on a research trip to Japan for his next Bond novel, You Only Live Twice, then onto Istanbul for the filming of From Russia with Love, he discovers Fleming is secretly determined to right their one shared intelligence failure: “Operation Flea” — the key to a bio-weapon of terrifying scope that could bring Britain and America to their knees.

With cameos by Sean Connery, Robert Shaw, and the death-obsessed Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima, Craig McDonald again deftly mixes fact and fiction for a darkly seductive historical romp through the mid-20th Century. This is the penultimate Hector Lassiter literary thriller in the Edgar/Anthony-awards nominated series BookPage declared “wildly inventive” and The Chicago Tribune calls “most unusual, and readable crime fiction to come along in years.” Read more about this novel here.

Room 39 and the Cornish Legacy by Mark Simmons

The murky world of the secret service and international terrorism comes to a Cornish seaside village, against a background of Britain, gripped by civil disorder. Divided by the Miners’ Strike, and struck by IRA atrocities in 1984. A reluctant heir, Rob Nicolson former Royal Marine Commando, arrives in Cornwall to claim the legacy of ‘Kantara’ his late aunt’s bungalow.

A letter and diaries from his dead aunt takes him back to World War II espionage, which features Ian Fleming. He begins to investigate and sets in motion a chain of violent events that involve Naval Intelligence, MI5, and the IRA. On the shores of a Californian lake, the story reaches its bleak and stunning conclusion.

The Interrogator by Andrew Williams

Spring, 1941. The armies of the Reich are masters of Europe. Britain stands alone, dependent on her battered navy for survival, while Hitler’s submarines – his ‘grey wolves’ – prey on the Atlantic convoys that are the country’s only lifeline. Lieutenant Douglas Lindsay is amongst just a handful of men picked up when his ship is torpedoed. Unable to free himself from the memories of that night at sea, he becomes an interrogator with naval intelligence, questioning captured U-Boat crews.

He is convinced the Germans have broken British naval codes, but he’s a lone voice, a damaged outsider, and his superiors begin to wonder – can he really be trusted when so much is at stake? As the Blitz reduces Britain’s cities to rubble and losses at sea mount, Lindsay becomes increasingly isolated and desperate. No one will believe him, not even his lover, Mary Henderson, who works at the very heart of the intelligence establishment.

‘Not only is this a gripping thriller … but (it) is confidently researched and cheekily written enough to include a cameo role for that real life Naval Intelligence officer of the day, a certain Ian Fleming.’ (Mike Ripley, Shots)

Estoril by Dejan Tiago-Stanković

Estoril, the author’s UK debut, is at once a spy story, a historical investigation, a delightful comedy and a meditation on exile. Set in a luxurious grand hotel just outside Lisbon, at the height of the Second World War, Estoril is a delightful and poignant novel about exile, divided loyalties, fear and survival. The novel seamlessly fuses the stories of its invented characters with appearances by infamous double agent Duško Popov and ‘the British agent’ Ian Fleming.

“War in all its many contradictions comes under Tiago-Stankovic’s scrutiny and he does not hold back from mocking the British and the Portuguese as well as his fellow countrymen. Ian Fleming is described as a drunk and a gambler, forever creating problems.” (Lucy Popescu, Euro Lit Network)

They stepped to the side, so as not to be visible from the front door. And a minute later, there was Fleming, they could see him through the glass picture window, heading their way. His long strides brought him rapidly to the front door. Manuel opened it with a “Good afternoon”. The Englishman returned the greeting as relaxed as relaxed could be and then spotted the grinning Popov waiting to ambush him. As if caught in the act, the Englishman looked away, turned red in the face and left more quickly than he had arrived.

Read more of an excerpt here.

Incidental Intelligence

Occult Connections: The Strange Case of Ian Fleming, World War II, and Aleister Crowley

A Spy In The House Of Rumour: Jake Arnott Interviewed

Ian Fleming in Any Human Heart

Exclusive Interview with Francine Mathews

Interview with Damian Stevenson

Ways To Make History Talk by Andrew Williams

2 thoughts on “Ian Fleming in Modern Literature

  1. He’s also featured in an adventure novel about the only (fictional) U-boat to surrender. It’s called U200 or U300, I don’t remember which.

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