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D.S. Kane is the pseudonym under which David Spiselman writes his spy novels. He is a former intelligence operative who had his cover blown at some point, a fact which made him cautiously switch gears from spy work to consultant work and later to writing books. D.S. Kane is now crafting clever spy fiction that exposes the way intelligence agencies tell lies to sway and manipulate their national policy, driving countries into dangerous conflicts. And based on the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, he writes some really good fiction too.
I am honored to give the stage to D.S. Kane to talk on Mystery Sequels about spies, lies and a bit of truth within them.
In one of Daniel Silva’s novels about Mossad assassin Gabriel Allon, he has the assassin state that being an operative means almost continuous travel, long periods of boredom separated by short interludes of intense terror.
It’s true. When I was operational, I was bored most of the time. But the episodes of sheer terror I occasionally experienced left me forever changed. They very specifically changed my values concerning truth and lies.
After I realized I might someday be caught by those I spied on, and I was pretty sure what they would do to me, I had to ask myself a question: If an enemy were able to break me, would the things I revealed lead to the capture and torture of others? Trick question, of course my truths would lead to my fellow covert operatives’ discovery and compromise, or even their deaths.
But the lies must be subtle to be believed. There must be a strong element of truth contained within them. Therefore, I needed to know how to lie in a way that would withstand careful scrutiny. Most people recruited for espionage are taught how to lie, and for this very reason.
In my first “Spies Lie series” book, Bloodridge, I have a scene where a spymaster states that we wage war through deception. We lead our enemies to believe things that aren’t true. My bespoke business suit says I am something other than a spy. My friendly smile, just before I plunge a knife into you as you pass me by, is a lie. The undetectable poison I dropped into the coffee cup I handed you, is a lie.
But what if the political leaders of my own country need to be motivated to do something they aren’t likely to agree with, but for their own good and the good of our country? Think about the most recent Big Lies: Weapons of mass destruction. We do not spy on our own country’s citizens without a warrant. Spies lie!
When we advise our political masters, some of what we tell them isn’t true. And this is to lead them to tell the public, in a convincing way, that they are telling the truth. When you were a child, did you ever play a game called “telephone.” In a line of young children, the first in the line is told something that can be whispered into the ear of the next child in the line. Typically, by the time the message reaches the final child in the line, it has been completely altered. We are designed to lie, to embellish the truth, to outright lie. Spies just do it better.
We all lie. Are your taxes a true reflection of your income? What did you tell the highway patrolman when you were caught speeding? What did you tell your spouse when he or she caught you planning a surprise party for them? Most lies are innocent. But given practice and necessity, anyone can become a marvel at lying.
Since I moved on from being a government controlled operative, I have tried to keep my lies to a minimum. These days, I write fiction, the ultimate form of lying.