It turns out the government decided to extend the official secret clasification on assassinations by the Norwegian resistance during WWII..... back in 2008!
The members of the resistance who were "in the know" decided never to tell anyone who the assassins were way back when the war ended, so I guess the official secrets act won't matter regardless.
Is anyone familiar with David jason's Secret Service? Link to y-tube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlJ2C7uA4x4
Great stuff! After watching the first episode I think it gets interesting when they focus on something properly, such as 30. Commandoes or the woman who checked if SOE candidates could be replied on not to talk. But the image presenter of the SOE is very far from comprehensive, at least so far.
The focus on Bond and Ian Fleming is well done and probably of interest for everyone here.
Now I've read The Rat Hunter. It's rare to read a novel about special operations and assassinations written by a legendary SOE agent. While Manus was never ordered to assassinated anyone (to his great relief) he obviously knew many of the assassins. In fact his boss Gunnar Sønsteby (The real Number 24) and the head of the military resistance often had the job of picking agents for the "rat work" and their targets. Max Manus' wife Tikken can best be described as Miss Moneypenny, and part of her job was handling assassination orders to SOE agents.
The main character in the book who's named Freddy. There are aspects of him that are clearly autobiographical such as his experiences in Latin America before the war, but the assassinations aren't the only thing that separates Freddy from the author. Freddy is married, but their relationship is purely sexual. Out of the bed his wife disgusts him. Freddy also sees a woman he knew from the resistance work during the war. The two of them are best described as soulmates and this is clearly the type Max Manus married in real life.
The book takes place when it was written in 1948. The back drop is the rebuilding of the country and the cold war, particularely the Berlin blocade. The former agents fear a new war is coming soon, a war where they have to go under cover again. It's interesting to note that their unit was disbanded in 1946, but because of the Soviet-controlled coup in Czechosovakia in 1947 the agents chose to meet again and for train to sharpen their "particular set of skills".
Freddy and many of the other former agents still carry pistols. They fear revenge from the losing nazis, but the main reason is psycological. "It was wonderful feeling of safety the touch of a pistol gave him" thinks Freddy early in the book. I remember Gunnar Sønsteby writing about practicing walking around unarmed in the streets after the war ended. Norwegian SOE agents kept weapons after the war, usually a pistol, a US carbine and a stengun. I don't know if it was legal, but it was accepted.
Freddy and his friends struggle with what we today call PTSD, experienceing nightmares and drinking too much. Some are more affected than others. In the evenings they meet up at the "X-club", a bar for former SOE agents, where they drink and talk with the only people who really understands them.
The author sometimes sidetracks and writes about issues that obviously was on his mind at the time such as people picking apart German matriel and selling it on the black market. Ian Fleming did the same thing. It's not hard to imagine this as a book Fleming could have written if he had lived longer, a realistic novel about a retired James Bond.
While the book lacks a strong plot it's never dull. Max Manus was a very good story teller and he wrote well. In 1948 he had already written a two-part bestselling autobiography about his war time experiences titled "It tends to end well" and "It gets serious". A shortened version is available in English. It's titled "Underwater saboteur", but you'd probably have to do some serious digging in the second-hand book market to find a copy. Any Bond fan worth his salt will love the book.