In Progress: Step back 58 years

The Mystery Writers of America has announced its next yearly collection of short stories, to be published in 2014.  These collections are always centered around a theme or topic, and for 2014 they’ve chosen a fun one:

Ice Cold: 

Tales of Mystery and Intrigue from the Cold War
Edited by Jeffery Deaver and Raymond Benson
“Spies. Femme fatales. Shady diplomats. Covert meetings in foreign cities. Nervous political leaders. Nuclear threats and brinksmanship. Paranoia. The Cold War had all of these and much, much more. The frigid time between 1945 and 1989 was a real-world maze of dead drops, double (and triple) agents, and clandestine meetings—and betrayals.”
       The collections feature 20 stories, 10 of which are commissioned by the editors (including their own contributions).  Along with stories from Mr. Deaver and Mr. Benson, the book will feature  Joseph Finder, John Lescroart, Laura Lippman, J. A. Jance, T. Jefferson Parker, and Sara Paretsky, among others.  But they also open up 10 slots for a competition by MWA members.  Any member can submit a story that fits the theme, and ten will be selected in an anonymous judging.
       I’ve come up with a premise I like – a CIA analyst stumbles onto evidence that suggests someone near him is a spy – and have started the first draft.  The story is set in 1954, so I’ve been doing research.  For instance, at that time the upper echelon of the CIA was housed in the State Department’s Foggy Bottom location, but the analysts, etc. were spread out throughout D.C., including a number who were housed in temporary buildings left over from WWII that were erected on the Mall.  The CIA didn’t get their current building in Virginia until almost the end of the decade, though its construction was approved by Eisenhower in 1955.  At the story’s time, James Jesus Angleton had just taken over the counterintelligence desk at the Company, which he would hold for the remainder of his career.  He’d sparred with Kim Philby before the latter’s defection, and his witch hunts for double agents handicapped the agency for years.  He was also responsible for the domestic spying in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and finally fell from power because of the Church Commission’s investigation into abuses by the CIA.  He makes a cameo appearance.
       I do enjoy writing in a historical setting and doing all the other research, such as what were the current models of cars people were driving (such as the Olds Rocket 88 or the Studebaker Starliner), or who was Adlai Stevenson’s running mate in 1952 (Senator John Sparkman).  You do have to be careful in the writing, though.  I thought about using “neatnik” to describe a character, but that word didn’t come into common use until 5 years later.
       So along with polishing the manuscript for my second novel (and searching for an agent for the first) and keeping up with movie and book reviews, this is what I’m currently working on.  I won’t know if it will be selected for publication until later next year.  If it is, I will announce it here.

About colborne55

I'm a author of mysteries, a book reviewer for Suspense Magazine, and as the Omnivorous Cinephile, I review movies.
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