A tale of espionage set in Lincolnshire during the Second World War released by author Alex Gerlis
Bringing Lincolnshire into sharp focus during the Second World War, Alex Gerlis' new spy thriller of double agents and espionage is out now.
"Lincolnshire had a very big part to play in the Second World War," says Gerlis, who was born in Grimsby and now lives in London.
"The RAF bases were absolutely central. I wanted to acknowledge through the book the fact there is this enormous county in England which sometimes doesn't get as much of a mention as other parts of the country."
The spy thriller tells the story of Owen Quinn, a young Royal Navy officer, and his French wife Nathalie who are caught up in a world of espionage, deception and intrigue.
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Gerlis says: "Lincolnshire features in two sections of the book. One is when our French woman Nathalie is being trained as a Special Operations Executive.
"She is not meant to know where she is being trained in the country but discovers a copy of the Lincolnshire Echo in a cupboard so finds out.
"I felt Lincolnshire was the kind of place they might look for a farm house near a railway where someone like Nathalie would be taken to be trained, with lots of open countryside. When I was young and we used to go for drives around the county, there was lots of open space. I wanted to get across that feeling."
The novel is also set in France and London.
"The biggest number of Special Operations Executives in the Second World War were flown into occupied France. There were hundreds of women and most of them where fluent French speakers. Obviously Nathalie is French and the story is really about what happens to Nathalie and her husband Owen Quinn.
"It turns out Nathalie is actually a German spy and everyone knows it apart from Owen, and they are using her as a double agent.
"When Owen goes looking for someone who might know the whereabouts of his wife, all he knows this person is somewhere in the Boston area."
Alex Gerlis, a journalist and writer who worked for the BBC for 27 years, says the idea for the story originally developed after he helped produce the BBC's coverage of the 50th Anniversary of D-Day from Normandy in 1994.
"At that time I was reading up about these events to find out more than I already knew and what surprised me was I thought the general assumption of Normandy is the allies land, there's a historic victory, and they go on to win the war. But the more you read the more you realise it was a close run thing.
"One of the reasons was, the Germans couldn't make up their minds where the allies were going to land. That was because of this Operation Fortitude to fool the Germans.
"They played into Hitler's hands because he looked at a map and decided where they'd land based on which was the shortest crossing.
"I became fascinated with the deception operation and how close it could have been. And the idea for The Best of Our Spies came a few years later. It suddenly came to me. And I wanted the book to be as factual as possible."
The Best of Our Spies is published by CB Creative Books, part of the Curtis Brown Literary Agency. It is available as an e-book (£1.79 until the end of January) or paperback (£10) through Amazon.