SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED: The Secret Files of I__ F______, Code Designate 17F Reviewed By Dr. Wesley Britton of Bookpleasures.com
Reviewer Dr. Wesley Britton: Dr. Britton is the author of four books on espionage in literature and the media. Starting in fall 2015, his new four-book science fiction series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, will debut via BearManor Media. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio’s Dave White Presents where he contributed interviews with a host of entertainment insiders. Dr. Britton teaches English at Harrisburg Area Community College.
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Author: Aaron Cooley
Publisher: Melnore Press; 1st edition (November 5, 2012)
Fictionalizing the life of Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, is nothing new. According to Jack Beckers "Ian Fleming as Fictional Character" in James Bond in World and Popular Culture: The Films are Not Enough (2009), there are at least 20 such uses of Fleming as a cameo or major character in print. In most cases, the focus was on Fleming's World War II service as in the 1990 TV movie, The Secret Life of Ian Fleming starring Jason Connery, son of Sean. In this film and many other tales, real or heavily fictionalized characters or situations are portrayed as foreshadowings of what Fleming would include in his 007 novels.
Aaron Cooley's debut novel is his toss into this imaginative ring where known history, speculative biography, and obvious literary invention meet. It's also coded in ways to avoid problems with the Fleming estate. For example, the first person narrator, ostensibly writing a report to his supervisor, calls himself “Ioan” and is often referred to as "Flem." "Ioan" is a desk-bound laborer in Naval Intelligence hungering for action in the field, and gets it by being sent on a mission that begins in the Belgian Congo and ends in Norway. His job is to determine just who double-agent Dusko Petrovic is working for—the Brits or the Nazis. As the story progresses, it becomes clear this character, based on actual WWII spy Dusko Popov, is destined to be the model for Fleming's most famous creation.
Along the way we meet folks like Charles Fraser-Smith who invents escape devices disguised as shoelaces, knives that jump out of Luftwaffe officer boots, and other clever toys—sound familiar? There's the hideous “Grauser” who has a half-metal face and body that's part man, part machine. There's the seductress Christine who wants her martini's shaken, not stirred. There are cards and casinos and dinner jackets . . .
"Ioan" never puts himself forward as the hero of the mission that becomes more and more deadly as "Flem" and Petrovic uncover the Nazi plot to create the first atomic bomb. Allying themselves with anti-Nazi saboteurs, they help destroy a "heavy water" base and participate in an exciting takeover of a ship at sea. "Flem" learns he isn't cut out to be a spy, but has a flair for writing. Hmm, wonder what happens next.
Cooley knows this is not a subject to take too seriously but rather has fun tossing in the famous ("Wild Bill" Donovan, founder of the O.S.S.), the lesser known (Stewart Menzies, the possible model for "M"), and characters only the author can tell us if they were cut from whole cloth or his five years of research. Shaken, Not Stirred is, in the end, that fun hybrid of a fast-paced thriller and fantasized Roman a' clef. Bond readers will enjoy it immensely—those who like WWII espionage stories will find it a good ride as well. It'll be awhile until the next 007 literary adventure—Shaken, Not stirred is a more than worthy place holder for the holidays.
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