My fourth Nick Temple File, The Flemish Coil, will be released soon. An important plot element at the heart of the book is the clandestine cooperation of American and Soviet elements attempting, for their own distinct purposes, to ratchet up the tension between the two superpowers in Cold War Europe. The background that makes such clandestine cooperation plausible is the competition for German resources in the immediate aftermath of World War II. Germany's possession of personnel that both the East and the West found valuable was an obvious fact of post war life. The fierce competition for the technical expertise of Germany's rocket scientists is well-documented evidence of that fact. So, I thought to myself, what other skill sets among the defeated Germans might the Cold War's primary antagonists find valuable? I write about clandestine activities, so, naturally, my mind turned to skills useful to the conduct of such activities. I settled on a multi-lingual assassin.
I mention all of this primarily because of the recent revelations about possible actions undertaken at the direction of the Russian government to influence the American presidential election. Let's not be naive. It should come as no surprise that Russia would try, overtly and covertly, to influence America's elections. What does seem surprising is the further allegation that Russia's actions may have been aided and abetted by Americans. As disturbing as that allegation is, on a personal level it could not have come at a better time. Those who might scoff at the premise of the existence of covert cooperation between the Soviets and Americans during the Cold War will have to check that skepticism against what appears to be a contemporary version - fact, not fiction - of such cooperation. Guess I just got lucky on this one?