In Secret Service

A Novel

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About The Book

In this debut of a uniquely talented novelist, Ian Fleming's real world of spies, love, passion, and danger is brought to life when a young woman inherits Fleming's long-hidden account of spying during World War II and must finish it to find out why people are trying to kill her.

In 1964, James Bond's creator sealed a package containing a manuscript he thought no one would read until fifty years after his death. Ian Fleming was an officer in Britain's Naval Intelligence during World War II, and he had his own adventures to recount. His family ties and his career had taken him to the upper echelons of British and American society and espionage, a world where passionate affairs, exotic locations, and polite cocktail chatter were interlaced with danger, betrayal, and deceit. He'd replicated that world in his famous novels, but this manuscript contained a real spy story that would explode history when its secrets were revealed. He'd chosen the reader, and he'd have to trust she would serve the truth.

In 2005, Amy Greenberg -- a young American academic with a glittering future -- is summoned to Ireland to claim the contents of her grandfather's safe deposit box, in which she finds only one thing: a manuscript by Ian Fleming. The pages detail Fleming's involvement in Allied spycraft and contain information so confidential, so potentially explosive, that Amy soon discovers that people on both sides of the Atlantic are willing to kill to maintain its secrecy. As she journeys back home with her precious cargo, Amy finds herself in a race against time -- she must unlock the manuscript's shocking and fascinating secrets and outwit the unknown assailants who would do anything to bury the truth and protect a traitor's name.

Peopled with characters including Winston Churchill, Princess Diana, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Anthony Blunt, and FDR and illustrated with authenticating documents, In Secret Service is a historical mystery inside a contemporary thriller. The debut of an exciting new writer, this book combines impeccable research with thrilling action, in a brand-new take on espionage suspense.

Reading Group Guide

Synopsis
When Amy Greenberg, an American art historian, travels to Ireland to collect the contents of her late grandfather's safe deposit box, the last thing she expects to find is a nonfiction manuscript by the master of spy fiction Ian Fleming. Even more shocking are the claims and details found in the document, secrets concerning the role of the British royal family in World War II, so inflammatory, Amy soon learns, that people are ready and willing to kill for it. As Amy fights her way back home, she must also navigate Fleming's mid-century world of spies and secrets, learning the truth that could save her life...or end it.
Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. In Secret Service opens with two scenes of well-known historical events, more than sixty years separating them. How does the prologue create a sense of danger and urgency in the present-day narrative? Though the events are recognizable, the perspective on what transpired is unique. How do these initial scenes set the tone for the novel? In what sense to do they validate the claims of Fleming's manuscript in advance? Why do you think this is important?
2. What is your impression of Amy Greenberg? In what ways is she an unlikely heroine for an espionage thriller? Consider her work in academia -- finding historical pieces to bring to light. How does this contrast with the work of a spy? How does her background aid her as the bearer of the manuscript?
3. Most of the chapters of Fleming's manuscript are headed with a copy of a document. Examine a few of them. What purpose do you think each serves in bolstering Fleming's theory? How does the presentation of the documents draw the reader into Amy's perspective? How would the novel be different if the documents were merely described?
4. How would you describe the typical "Bond girl"? How does Wallis Simpson fit the image of a Fleming femme fatale? In what ways does she differ from the type or subvert it?
5. How would you characterize Fleming's personality? In his letter, he addresses Amy directly, creating a narrative conversation. How does this help Fleming serve as Amy's ally, while she is in danger? In what ways does this humanize the document itself and encourage Amy to protect it?
6. Consider the central characters in the novel -- Amy, Fleming, and Devlin, in particular. How does each compare to the James Bond archetype that you are familiar with? If Devlin is the most Bondlike figure, how does this comment on the reality of espionage versus the usual fictional portrayal of spies?
7. Amy is threatened from more than one angle by groups ready to kill or die for the sake of the manuscript. What is at stake for the Windsors? What does public exposure of the facts mean to the Irish faction? What does it mean to Fleming? What does the discovery of the manuscript mean for Amy?
8. Were you surprised by the revelation of Scott's connection to the Windsor letter? Do you think his involvement undermines the validity of his feelings for Amy, or does it support their relationship through an interconnected history?
9. Silver unfolds Fleming's story within the context of actual historical events and characters, blurring the line between history and fiction. How does this ambiguity create a heightened sense of reality in the rest of the novel? Discuss the depictions of real historical figures in the novel. How do they compare to your prior conceptions of these individuals?
10. In his letter, Fleming vividly describes the changing political culture of England from the Great War to the 1960s, and Amy herself gets a harrowing glimpse of the secret workings of the modern-day system. How does the world of spies and secrets found in the novel evolve from the early twentieth century to the present day? Compare the personalities of the various agents that Amy comes into contact with -- Devlin, Sheridan, Macken, and Ramesh. What characteristics do they share? How do they differ from the mid-century model of Fleming and Anthony Blunt? What parts of Silver's depiction do you find believable, and which far-fetched?
11. Why do you think is it important to Fleming to keep the manuscript hidden until after the deaths of everyone involved?
Enhancing Your Bookclub
• Are there any lingering questions about where fact deviates from fiction in In Secret Service? Look up the biographies of key players like Ian Fleming and Wallis Simpson on a website such as wikipedia.org.
• Why not make your next book club selection an Ian Fleming novel? Start with the first James Bond novel, Casino Royale and discuss how it compares with the spy world of In Secret Service.
• Set your meeting in a clandestine location -- perhaps a private room of your own local club or favorite restaurant. Have fun discussing your own conspiracy theories -- but be sure to keep voices low...just in case!

About The Author

Photo Credit:

Mitch Silver is an advertising agency creative director who lives in Rye, New York. In Secret Service is his first novel.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (May 2007)
  • Length: 272 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781416546047

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Raves and Reviews

"A monarchy in trouble, murderous treason, and a World War II betrayal that resonates into the present. The real thrill of In Secret Service is watching this contemporary and historical tale recounted through the fun house mirror. Enjoy the ride." -- Brad Meltzer, bestselling author of The Book of Fate

"First-time novelist Silver spins an entertaining tale...and his high spirits are so contagious that readers will happily go along for the ride." -- Publishers Weekly

"Compelling.... A story Ian Fleming himself would have enjoyed." -- Rocky Mountain News (Denver)

"Silver impressively overlays speculative scenarios atop actual historical events.... The multi-layered conspiracies are well-imagined." -- The Washington Post

"Gripping and dangerous as any James Bond adventure....A tantalizing page-turner." -- The Star Phoenix (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)

"Mitch Silver links Fleming's real and fictional worlds to today's headlines." -- Wilkes-Barre Times Leader (PA)

"Silver mounts suspense ever so slowly but ever so surely that you find yourself breathlessly waiting for a startling denouement." -- Tampa Tribune

"Harks back to the best of the Cold War thrillers....In Secret Service is at home in the past and present -- and compelling in both." -- Rocky Mountain News (Denver)

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

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