[skip to content]

.




Preface by Toby Ashworth

Publisher's Preface

Whenever Jon Stock visits us in Cornwall I always have to
allow my imagination to change into the fifth gear of espionage. I
believe the first occasion I met Jon, Hilary and their fun-loving
family was when helping to research some detail for Jon’s 2011
spy thriller Games Traitors Play. It was prior to his appointment
at the Telegraph as Executive Head of Life and Weekend – the
coolest business card in town – and I was clearly briefed by our
PR team at Wild West to host this important journalist/writer
and provide the background scenario for the opening scene of his
new book. The challenge, to land – realistically and without
suspicion – a spy off a Russian tanker anchored in Falmouth Bay
onto the rocks under St Anthony Head, was well within the remit
of an ex-naval officer turned independent hotelier. We used the
hotel’s Cornish Crabber to get in close underneath the cliffs,
where we contrived a storyline that would allow for a Search and
Rescue helicopter from RNAS Culdrose to be hijacked.

A couple of bottles of Taittinger in The Goring cocktail bar and
a few years later, the pace had quickened. The hotel’s recently
acquired classic motor launch was pushing twenty knots as she
narrowly missed Black Rock at the entrance to Carrick Roads
under the cover of darkness.
The Ashworth and Stock families
were returning from the Helford River where conversation had
turned to grandfather’s wartime stories of a suspicious-looking
SOE maritime operations vessel,
masquerading as a Breton fishing
trawler, that had been seen heading off around The Manacles…

The ingredients of another short thriller were emerging.
‘There’s never a dull moment running an hotel’ is a favourite
family saying of ours and one that is reasonably well justified,
given the hundred-odd years that the family has been running
hotels in Cornwall. As you can imagine, there are many stories to
be told. Hotels are fascinating places where different characters,
guests and staff come together in an intoxicating social mix that
reveals extraordinary backgrounds and contacts. The serenity
and comfort of the front of house counterpoints beautifully with
the behind-the-scenes passion and determination to ensure that
all is provided for guests. It is this fine balance that makes
running hotels such a buzz – and why they make the perfect
backdrop for spy thrillers.

Thus I am sure that John le Carré,
when writing The Night
Manager, and Jon Stock, the author of this book, found that
hotels have real people who work in them, each with their own
riveting back story –or should that be cover story? Hidden and
surprising talents found amongst staff in any hotel should not be
overlooked, particularly by an author in search of a good tale.
While researching this book, our own writer-in-residence
discovered that we have, in our midst, staff who have experience
in forensic science, MI5, naval intelligence, airline security,
international shipping and piracy. Add an injection of Russian-
Latvian political experience and the plot starts to thicken.
This book unashamedly celebrates these people. Please be
aware, however, that there are other characters whose names and
stories we should not wholly believe. After all, when operating in
the shadowy world of espionage, one can never really tell who is
on which side. So it is probably just best to sit back and enjoy the
story. And if you like it, our well-stocked library has all of Jon’s
other spy novels.

Another essential and very real ingredient of this book is the
stunning local coastal scenery.
There are beautiful old churches,
areas and waterways of outstanding natural beauty which are
found on and around the Roseland Peninsula and the Fal and
Helford rivers. They have borne witness to significant historical
wartime events, including recently uncovered feats of espionage,
and create an inspirational and natural environment in which to
stage a spy thriller.

One final point. It has come to light that Noah and Clemmie,
the hero and heroine of this book, did not in fact accomplish all
that they set out to find.
They have left unfinished business, as
well as evidence of their first mission (including a letter hidden in
the hotel). To Snare a Spy should therefore be seen as background
briefing for future SOE insertions and spy operations that will
require further agents to follow in their footsteps. In short, there
will be opportunities aplenty in the future for aspiring spooks
staying at The Nare to be recruited and go undercover as agents,
completing Noah and Clemmie’s original mission.

Every business should have a ‘fund for fun’ and this book
certainly dips into that fund at The Nare.
However, it should be
seen not just as a piece of novel marketing but also as welldeserved
recognition and heartfelt thanks for all the hard work
that our staff put towards making every guest staying at The Nare
feel comfortable.

Spy master contact for agents: telephone 01872 500 007, or visit
www.tosnareaspy.com/spooks

Toby Ashworth
Proprietor, The Nare
Cornwall
Spring 2017