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A Retirement Fund for Spies
on 3 May 2004
Many espionage novels contain details about spies who have siphoned off some of their operating budgets into Swiss bank accounts. None other than The Intercom Conspiracy (to my knowledge) involves using a spy's awareness of how espionage is committed to encourage a retirement payoff by releasing "non-secret secrets."
The narration of The Intercom Conspiracy provides part of its charm. The central figure is Theodore Carter, the hard-drinking editor of a weekly newspaper that focuses on intelligence matters. He recounts his unpleasant experiences as editor when new owners begin providing him with real classified information . . . and various parties become interested in shutting down the Intercom, either by buying it out or by eliminating its editor.
Carter is approached by Charles Latimer, the inquisitive crime writer of A Coffin for Dimitrios, for his help in completing the story of those events at the Intercom. Latimer has learned about the background plot from one of the conspirators (a neighbor in Majorca) and wants to go public. Before long, Latimer disappears while Carter goes on to flesh out the story Latimer has dug up.
Using a combination of Carter's narration and Latimer's writing, you'll uncover what really happened. It's a chilling . . . but often perversely droll . . . tale of how espionage bureaucracies operate. Thinking back to the many intelligence "failures" that have been noted in recent years with regard to terrorism, it makes one wonder who may have been running a similar little game for their own benefit.
After you finish this intriguing story, think about how your work could be misdirected to harmful ends. How can you avoid that?