Today sees the release of an espionage book that seems so highly improbable it could only be true. Into the Lion’s Mouth by Larry Loftis is about Dusko Popov’s exploits during the Second World War, when he gained valuable intelligence for the allies while misleading Nazi Germany.
Popov was known to the British as Agent Tricycle and his biggest achievement was to help feed false information to Germany so that troops and tank divisions were placed well away from the sites of the D-Day landings, gaining the allies valuable time on the ground in France.
However, another huge intelligence scoop was sat on by the FBI. Handed clear evidence from Popov that Japan intended to attack Pearl Harbor, J Edgar Hoover did nothing. Interestingly Loftis also suggests it was likely that Popov exacted revenge for the murder of his friend “Johnny” Jebsen, a double agent snatched by the Gestapo towards the end of the war.
Loftis manages to place Ian Fleming in Estoril at the same time as Popov and suggests Casino Royale was inspired by watching Popov at the baccarat tables of Estoril Casino. Fleming told various versions of a story that he played baccarat against German spies and lost, but bound at the time by the Official Secrets Act he was unable to tell the truth. In fact Loftis goes further and suggests that Popov was Fleming’s inspiration for James Bond, listing a multitude of ways in which Popov and Bond’s manner, looks and skills overlapped.
Even without the Fleming/Bond connection Into the Lion’s Mouth is hard to put down and the exploits of some of the people fighting Nazism is incredible. Deliberately putting themselves in danger time and time again, they knew any slip meant being tortured to death.
Into the Lion’s Mouth by Larry Loftis is published by Berkley. It is available in the US on 14th June and in the UK from 16th July.