Place in time – Early 1960s
Setting – London, Berlin, Washington and Havana
Where fact meets fiction – at the heart of the Cuban missile crisis, the Profumo Affair, the French Connection and precisely why Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday” to JFK.
This is a clever tour of behind the scenes of the diplomatic and spy worlds at a time in history – leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis – where tensions are heightened and no-one or nothing is as it seems.
‘Don’t play me for a fool. Who are you? I’m sure I’ve seen you before.’
‘You’re confusing me with someone else.’
‘Maybe that’s because you take so many different forms.’
Fact and fiction merge seamlessly together – our character Catesby who is somewhat of a reluctant spy – almost everything he does, he questions the morality of it and the rights and wrongs of further actions. He has rather an interesting background for a spy – working class, grammar school and then Cambridge before entering the SIS. So, he set up as not quite the outsider anyore but certainly not ‘ one of the boys’ either.
Catesby’s boss, Henry Bone, is introduced early on as he disposes of someone is no longer useful. Further actions and events cause us to wonder who is the hunter and who is the hunter – which must have been the real state of affairs at a time where the Americans and Russian were playing a game of ‘who will blink first’ with the future of humanity. The tension of possible nuclear warfare is lurking…
Where then do you think the Russian are going to put their missiles?
Catesby then told him the name of the island
At one point, Wilson has Catesby ruminate on the idea that what “made the Cold War so dangerous was that the Russians were playing chess and the Americans poker.’ Many of the British officials seem to mistrust the Americans and vice versa. The British are scared of the fact that it will be the British Isles which would be blown off the map if weapons were used. The reader is left wondering just what the real behind the scenes level of trust, mistrust and double dealing really was like. As Catesby himself thinks –
“The most interesting aspect of international relations wasn’t the conflict between enemies, but the conflicts between allies.”
Coming up to the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, this seems to me to be the perfect time to take another and thrilling look at the dealings that went on behind the scenes of what led to the Cuban Missile crisis and to take a look at the man himself .
The murky and shady dealings of the spy setting goes hand in hand with that of the real historical setting and combines for an explosive and fascinating mix. The fictional characters in The Midnight Swimmer become involved with scandal and intrigue on every level – rubbing shoulders with as diverse characters as Harold Macmillan and Che Guevara
Dear President Kennedy , the revoultion is inevitable and unstoppable, but while you are waiting I hope you enjoy these cigars
Take a shady but thrilling ride along the corridors of the smooth stone walls of La Cabaña of Che Guevara
The ornate embassies of Georgetown, Washington
The fishing villages of Norfolk
Quite a ride.