The origins of the British Secret Service can be traced back to 1909 with the establishment of the Secret Service Bureau. Initially staffed by just two officers, Royal Navy Commander Mansfield Cumming and Army captain Vernon Kell, its initial focus was on addressing concerns about German espionage activities based largely on German nationals in Britain.


These fears were heavily stoked by sensationalist headlines in the newspapers, the Daily Mail, for example, advising its readers to ‘Refuse to be served by a German waiter’ and ‘If your waiter says he is Swiss, ask to see his passport.’ This sort of thing reflected the tensions brought about by the Anglo-German naval arms race and the approach of war.

Kell did eventually discover a real network of spies working for German Naval Intelligence who were a significant threat to British security. One significant individual who backed him to the hilt and was a huge believer in the importance of intelligence services was Winston Churchill. Then the Home Secretary, he successfully urged chief constables to assist Kell and introduced a system of Home Office Warrants which authorised the interception of all the correspondence of suspects.

The outbreak of World War I in 1914 saw the Bureau expand its operations, focusing on intelligence gathering activities overseas, and thereby provide much valuable intelligence to the British military command.

It is into this whirlwind of activity at a time of rapidly growing tension in early 1913 that we see recently recruited Bureau agent, Alexander Templeman, step. Fresh from a nerve-shredding assignment in Vienna, he joins a team of agents trying to identify the source of a series of information leaks from Government offices.

But what starts out as a straightforward task rapidly escalates into a desperate struggle, the outcome of which will have major implications for the country’s readiness for the coming war. It could even mean the difference between victory and defeat.

Soon isolated and alone, with enemy agents closing from every side, Templeman must fight and defeat his own inner demons if he is to stand any chance of overcoming the agents of the Kaiser.

The Meyer-Hoffman Affair is published on January 30th and is available for pre-order now.



Image from Pixabay.









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