So. This is surreal.
A lot of the accolades you get when you have a book published are predictable. The joy of fan mail. The thrill of book signings and conventions.
Yes. It’s an e-version of my novel CRASHERS, but written in Italian.
Now, Ie seen the print-version of CRASHERS in Italian. But this is the first time we’ve ever stumbled on an e-version. It apparently just came out this year from a publisher I’ve ever heard of before. And there it is: Big as life.
Of course I downloaded it.
It’s very, very mind-bending to read entire paragraphs of your story translated into the Italian – except for the character names and the obscenities. Of which there are, ahem, a few.
Per paragraph, apparently.
And while I’m trolling through the Internet trying to find this international e-version of my novel, I stumble on this: A British T-shirt company called Zazzle (I think auto-correct just had a hernia) that apparently has made a CRASHERS T-shirt.
Of course I bought it.
I was surprised to see that they had it in stock. In my size. Really, in all sizes. Apparently, there hasn’t been a mad run on CRASHERS T-shirts in England.
Can’t imagine why not.
I might have discovered the Number Stations of the 21st Century.
You know about Number Stations: Those weird, random and unexplained short-wave radio broadcasts of un-credited music followed by unidentified voices chanting off numbers. I’ve read reports that they date back to World War II. Many people assume Number Stations are a perfectly obscure way to send intelligence around the world without risking agents and couriers being caught making contact.
Now, I think, Twitter could be used the same way.
I titled my new book ICE COLD KILL and I use a service to troll Twitter every day looking for that title. Turns out, I didn’t do a great job of it, and the service looks for the three words (Ice, Cold, and Kill) randomly.
So almost every single day, I get from two to a dozen Tweets with those words. Here’s the take from one day this week:
• Would literally kill for a jug of ice cold fanta.
• I could kill for an ice cold fosters right now!
• Would kill for an ice cold kopperberg or a cocktail right now
• would kill for a glass of ice cold Iron Brew!
• Would kill for a ice cold bulmurs now
• I’d kill for an ice cold mixed fruit kopparberg right about now
• I’d kill for some ice cold fresh watermelon right now
• could kill for an ice cold cocktail
That’s from one day.
OK, so maybe a dozen people do use the same clichéd line (“…would kill for … ice cold …”) each and every day. I’ll buy that. But wouldn’t that be the perfect way to hide intelligence communications in plain sight?
Say you had an asset on the ground in, oh, Cairo. And let’s say you needed your asset to ignore, follow, beat, or kill someone. You establish a dozen Twitter accounts and toss out a meaningless cliché like, “Wouldn’t turn down a refreshing (fill in the blank) today!”
For “blank,” substitute:
Ingore = Ice Cream
Follow = Fruit Punch
Beat = Brew
Kill = Kegger
And, voila: A Number Station for the digital age.
John Le Carré’s A DELICATE TRUTH is a terrific thriller. Well worth reading.
Same writer. Same topics (espionage, what the German’s call realpolitik). Separated by exactly 50 years.
Both are terrific. And both very much feel like creations of their era. The cigarettes and the cars and the dialog of 1963 seem pretty perfect to my ear. And the SIM cards and drone strikes and dialog of 2013 seem pretty perfect.
A writer can be ahead of his time, and likely not appreciated. Or a writer can be stuck in time – this is heresy, I know, but I have trouble reading Herman Wouk today. That stuff seems dated, whereas THE SPY WHO… seems fresh.
John Le Carré has.