The Dennis Wheatley 'Museum' - The Post War Years
A very different book
Colonel Sheridan, a cloak-and-dagger chap with whom I had numerous friendly dealings during the war, wrote and asked me if I would come and see him in his office.
It emerged that he was now associated with the Foreign Office and was one of the top boys concerning Propaganda. He wanted me to write a romance for publication in the Near East. Under cover of an exciting love story it was to back up the old Muhammedan faith and reveal the evils resulting from Communism.
This was a tricky business because it had to be of the highest morality; not even kissing permitted until the couple were married; but I took it on. The bones of the story I wrote were a fine, young businessman in love with a lovely girl who sold scent in the bazaar. A Russian diplomat falls for her and lures her into the garden of the Soviet Embassy where, in a summer house, he tries to rape her. She pulls a knife from under her clothes and kills him. She is then arrested and charged with murder.
It was many years since I had read the Koran, but I vaguely recalled a passage in it which I managed to find. After hearing the case the Kadi (magistrate) declared : ‘It is written by the Prophet, blessed be his name, [verse so and so] that every woman, even a slave, has the right to defend her honour by any means she is able to do so.’
I called the book Of Vice and Virtue. Sheridan and his colleagues were delighted with it and particularly my use of the Koran to save my heroine. No English version, other than my typescript, exists. It was printed in Arabic and, I believe, Persian; but I only have a copy of the former. Anyhow, I was told that it became a bestseller in the Near East.
Early on, the question arose of how much I should be paid for this little effort. By that time each new book of mine was earning thousands. But it was then suggested that for such an operation the use of Secret Funds was fully justified, and these would be tax free; so I readily agreed that I would be happy to settle for a very much smaller sum in cash. When the time came my only problem was how to convey several hundred pounds in notes from Sheridan’s office to my bank without risking one of my pockets being picked, or an accident enabling someone to relieve me of a good wad of notes by just putting a hand in my pocket. I solved this by bringing with me a dozen or more large safety pins. Sheridan stuffed all the notes into my two hip pockets then cross-[inned them so that it would take a good ten minutes to get them out.
‘Drink & Ink’ pp 258-9