Flying Helmet





Publisher's Note to Readers

Some may question casting Winston Churchill as a key character in a series of historical thrillers set during 1929-1939, his “Wilderness Years” when he was out of power, out of favor and a lone voice warning against the rising danger posed by Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. They shouldn’t. Saving Western Civilization in 1940 when England stood alone as a beacon of liberty in a sea of tyranny tends to overshadow Churchill’s earlier accomplishments.

Churchill is, in many ways, a perfect historical figure around which to craft a period thriller. Winston was an adventure-seeking young man, a fencing champion in prep school, a championship polo player in the Army and a seaplane pilot in the early, peril-filled days of flight in 1910. In between, he was a much-decorated war hero in bloody battles on the Afghan-Indian border, in the Sudan, and in South Africa where his commanding officer nominated him for the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest military honor, and where he escaped from a prisoner of war camp and made his way to freedom over hundreds of miles of enemy territory. In World War I, while other politicians, safely abed, sent millions of young men to their death, Winston was with his troops in the trenches in the bloody Ypres salient daily risking death himself.

More importantly for this new series, Churchill maintained a private intelligence network in Britain and Europe during the 1930s which often left him better informed than his own government. The writing team of the critically acclaimed Churchill biographer Michael McMenamin and his son Patrick McMenamin use this fact as a catalyst for their stories. With Churchill at the center spinning his own web, he lures into many adventures his fictional Scottish goddaughter, the beautiful Hearst photojournalist Mattie McGary and the American law professor Bourke Cockran, Jr., a former U.S. Army counter-intelligence agent. Winston, a romantic at heart, brings the two young people together. Romance blooms but it is not a match made in heaven. Both characters are strong-willed individuals and their Celtic tempers frequently clash. Cockran is the fictional son of Churchill’s real life mentor Bourke Cockran, a prominent turn-of-the –century New York lawyer, statesman, orator and presidential adviser whose life is chronicled in Becoming Winston Churchill, the Untold Story of Young Winston and His American Mentor by Michael McMenamin and Curt Zoller (Enigma Books, 2009).

The first three novels take place during 1929-1932 before Hitler’s ill-fated, but entirely legal, appointment as the German Chancellor. In The DeValera Deception, Winston, Mattie and Bourke tangle with the IRA and a real-life, pre-Hitler, Russo-German conspiracy to dismember Poland. In doing so, they discover a plot in the US to assemble arms for an IRA coup d’etat in the new Irish Free State and Cockran seeks revenge for his wife’s murder by the IRA in the 1922 Irish civil war. In The Parsifal Pursuit [Enigma Books, Spring, 2011], Winston sends Mattie on a grail quest in the company of a handsome villain intent on her seduction, a journey shadowed by the Nazis who want the ancient Christian artifact for Hitler. Also at Winston’s behest, Cockran travels to Germany to represent a beautiful blonde heiress who is the victim of a Nazi fund-raising tactic—extortion of her business by a protection racket worthy of Al Capone. In The Gemini Agenda [Enigma Books, Fall 2011], Winston and his private intelligence network put Mattie and Bourke on the trail of a plot by Nazi scientists to kidnap and conduct lethal eugenic experiments on American twins. Shockingly, they learn the conspiracy is funded by Wall Street financiers and elements of US Army Intelligence who hope to unlock the secret to creating a master race.

I hope you have as much fun reading these stories as I did. A new Winston-Mattie-Bourke trilogy set in 1933-1934 is in the making so stay tuned…

Robert Miller, Publisher, Enigma Books