The spy who loved the occult

Introducing Enfield author Richard McNeff’s new novel

Enfield author Richard C McNeff (credit Diane Hinds)
Enfield author Richard C McNeff (credit Diane Hinds)

An Enfield-based author known for mingling fact with fiction is set to publish his new book this Halloween.

The date of 31st October is appropriate, for the story revolves around Aleister Crowley, the ‘Great Beast’ of legend, magician, writer, notorious sexual and drug experimenter – icon of 1960s counterculture. His influence is still felt today, as a recent photo of Jay-Z sporting a sweatshirt inscribed with “Do What Thou Wilt”, Crowley’s key message, indicates.

The growing evidence that Crowley worked for British intelligence services has long intrigued local author Richard C McNeff. He explored this in an earlier work, Aleister Crowley MI5, with its bohemian 1930s setting and spy plot revolving around the abdication.

Now, with Aleister Crowley MI6: the Hess Solution, McNeff focuses on the very real possibility that Ian Fleming of naval intelligence took up Crowley’s well-documented May 1941 offer to crack the recently-captured Rudolf Hess by exploiting their mutual fascination with the occult.

Set mainly in Netherwood, the Hastings boarding house where Crowley resided from 1945 until his death in 1947, Pasadena 1952, and the ever-more swinging London of 1965, the book also suggests that a figure was waiting for Hess in Scotland, offering a plausible and well-supported solution to one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th Century.

Featuring the well-known occultist Dion Fortune, Anthony Blunt, Hitler, the spymaster Maxwell Knight – believed by many to be the model for ‘M’ of the Bond books – the Californian rocket scientist and Crowley follower Jack Parsons, and two Beatles, Aleister Crowley MI6 is a riveting spy thriller anchored in fact.

McNeff is also the author of the Brexit satire The Dream of Boris, plus With Barry Flanagan: Travels through Time and Spain, which recounts the hilarious adventure of curating an exhibition on Ibiza for the internationally recognised sculptor, a man of great talent and enormous eccentricity. McNeff has lived across Europe for many years, working mainly as a language teacher. His itchy feet no doubt derived from a nomadic childhood spent roaming Britain with his father – a repertory theatre actor who went into films and television – and mother, a poet and artist. The research that went into his new book was boosted by writings left to him by an uncle, a wartime major in MI6.

Aleister Crowley M16 is published on 31st October by Mandrake of Oxford. For more information:

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