Fleming in Fiction – ‘The Interrogator’ by Andrew Williams

In Andrew William’s 2009 novel The Interrogator, which was shortlisted for CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger that year, Ian Fleming appears as a character in the book, in his role as Special Assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence Admiral Godfrey.

Lieutenant Douglas Lindsay is among just a handful of men rescued when his ship, the HMS Culloden, is torpedoed in the Atlantic. Unable to free himself from the memories of that night and return to duty at sea, he becomes an interrogator with naval intelligence, questioning captured U-boat crews. He is convinced that the Germans have broken British naval codes, but he’s a lone voice, a damaged outsider, and his superiors begin to wonder:  can he be trusted when so much at stake?

Williams described his initial inspiration for his first novel after publishing two non-fiction works, ‘The Battle of the Atlantic’ and and ‘D-Day to Berlin’.

“It may have been a line in a secret report on British naval codes in the Second World War, or an unguarded remark by a veteran who admitted giving too much to his interrogator.

Pulling at the tapestry of the story after so many months, it is hard to disentangle the threads that led me to The Interrogator. But perhaps it began with an extraordinary building, an enormous filthy grey concrete bunker a stone’s throw from 10 Downing Street, a building many thousands of Londoners pass every week without noticing – the Citadel. It’s a little like a submarine with its squat tower on the Mall and a concrete deck stretching to Horse Guards Parade – to coin a phrase, a monstrous carbuncle on the elegant face of Whitehall and government.

The Citadel

Built in 1941 for the Royal Navy’s intelligence division, the secret battle against the German U-boat was waged in its sub-basement. The concrete was still wet when, in February that year, Hitler promised a Nazi rally that Britain’s lifeline of food and raw materials from America would be cut by his “grey U-boat wolves”.

– [Ways To Make History Talk by Andrew Williams – The Scotsman, 31 January 2009 – Read the full article here]

Book Extract: Lt Commander Ian Fleming speaks to Mary Henderson about Lindsay.

“A group of crisply dressed Staff officers had just left the Director’s office and were chatting noisily at his door. Mary slipped past, head bent, anxious to catch no one’s eye.

‘Dr Henderson . . .’

It was the Director’s Assistant. She turned to greet him:

‘Ian, how are you?’

Ian Fleming in Room 39.

Ian Fleming in Room 39.

Fleming reached for her hand, then kissed her warmly on both cheeks: ‘Lovely, even in your customary academic dress, and do you know, I was just thinking of you.’

Mary raised her eyebrows sceptically. She had known Ian Fleming since childhood, an old family friend who had been at Eton for a time with her brother. But he was an adventurer – fine words had been followed more than once by a direct challenge to her virtue. A handsome thirty-three, Fleming was tall, immaculate, with wavy hair, tired close-set eyes, a strong jaw and a severe mouth that turned down a little disdainfully at the corners. She had always stoutly resisted his attempts to seduce her – that was why they were still on good terms. ‘I’ve just left the Director. We were talking about your chap.

Your name was mentioned too,’ he said, squeezing her hand gently between both of his.

Mary coloured a little and slipped free: ‘Why on earth . . .’

‘It isn’t a secret, is it? Don’t academics take lovers?’

‘Only sensitive ones.’

Incidental Intelligence

Andrew Williams

Andrew Williams

Andrew Williams was born in Sheffield in 1962 and brought up in Lincolnshire. After studying English at Oxford University he worked for ten years as a senior current affairs producer with the BBC, covering the big international stories of the day. His programme on the massacre at Srebrenica in 1995 was shortlisted for an Emmy and used in evidence at the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague.

For the next ten years, he wrote and directed historical documentaries for the BBC and international co-producers, including the award-winning series ‘The Battle of the Atlantic’. He has also written two best selling accounts of Second World War campaigns, ‘The Battle of the Atlantic’, and ‘D-Day to Berlin’.

His latest book, WITCHFINDER, is about the witch hunt that takes place in the British intelligence services following the defection of Kim Philby in 1963 and will be published on September 19th, 2019.

Visit Andrew’s website.

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