NEW SPY NOVEL’S DEPICTION OF CIA ORIGINS ECHOES ITS AUTHOR’S FAMILY HISTORY
2015, the year Eric Vinc3nt launched his SPYMANCE franchise, also marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, during which America’s first national spy agency, the Office of Strategic Services, was created, and after the war was renamed the Central Intelligence Agency. The author of the 2015 spy novel THE CLEOPATRA AFFAIR stands in proximity to that history. “A female relative of mine served in the O.S.S.,” says Vinc3nt. “A native of a Spanish speaking country in the Western hemisphere, she helped Major General William “Wild Bill” Donovan, the chief of the O.S.S., infiltrate the Spanish embassy in Washington DC.” As World War II buffs are aware, Spain was ostensibly neutral, but the Spanish dictator Franco covertly supported the Nazis. To what extent? Wild Bill Donovan was determined to get inside the Spanish embassy to find out, and that’s where Eric Vinc3nt’s recent ancestor came in.
Thus Vinc3nt became a serious spy buff in childhood, and went on to practice the tradecraft in adulthood. “I worked for a private firm, which isn’t as unusual as most people assume.” The hero of THE CLEOPATRA AFFAIR, Tristan Boumann, likewise runs a privately owned, freelance spy-mob, a premise which lends itself to unorthodox story possibilities. In CLEO he’s conducting a fact-finding mission focused on the assassination of an American archeologist in Cairo. Tristan soon discovers the archeologist was connected to a notorious O.S.S. man, and had been working on the dig for Cleopatra which, in real life, has been ongoing in the same western Egyptian desert the Second Battle of El Alamein took place, a battle which shifted the course of World War II. “When I discovered this proximity between the Cleopatra dig and El Alamein,” Vinc3nt says, “And also that a key to the battle’s success for the Allied Forces was an O.S.S. communications ruse in the Gulf of Suez, the basic premise for THE CLEOPATRA AFFAIR virtually wrote itself in my mind. All I had to do was type it.” The novel dovetails those historical elements with contemporary MidEast geopolitics, and in its third act, the mystery morphs into a thriller, with military details that draw on the author’s family history as well. “Army, Navy, Air Force - my family served in them all. I grew up with this stuff. But by going into the private sector instead of the military, I retained a big-picture view of the world, so my novels are not traditional military genre-types, but more akin to those of my hero John le Carré” (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy).