A few days ago I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I used to devour spy novels, but now that I write them most of my reading is non-fiction, for research. My books are set during the Cold War, but in the last few weeks I've mainly been reading memoirs related to World War Two. One of these was For He Is An Englishman, the autobiography of Charles Arnold-Baker or Wolfgang von Blumenthal. 'Or' because the author was born a Prussian nobleman, but ended up becoming more English than the English. Published in 2007, it's an account of his long and fascinating life from his childhood through Oxford University, and a career as a barrister, academic, historian and spy. Unsurprisingly, I was most interested in the spying, but I hadn't realized there would be any when I bought it: I was interested in details of his school life.Visit the official Jeremy Duns website.
In 1943, having already been in charge of a platoon that guarded Winston Churchill, Arnold-Baker joined MI6 as a counter-intelligence officer, where he worked with the notorious double agent Kim Philby, who he describes in detail. Later, our author took part in the liberations of both Belgium and Norway. All of which is extraordinary enough, but he tells the tale in a very intimate style, not at all show-offy. His descriptions of his sexual escapades in Antwerp are surprising and touching in their honesty: this was no cardboard hero, but a living, breathing, flawed man who moved through life with great sensitivity. I learned a lot from it, and not just for my next novel.