After the war, Eric Roberts joined M.I.6 and was sent to Vienna as a clerk with the occupying forces, to trail his coat in the hope that he would be recruited as a Soviet spy. His mission was a failure—it’s possible he had been betrayed before he arrived. He returned to London, and then, believing himself to be unwanted and under suspicion, he moved his family to Canada, where he set up home on an island off Vancouver.

There he gardened and wrote. He published a history of the island and tried his hand at fiction. In researching his life for my book Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5’s Secret Nazi Hunter, reviewed by Andrew Roberts in this issue of Air Mail, I visited his daughter in Canada, where she showed me a box containing various papers. Some were communications from his 1930s controller, which he shouldn’t have kept. One was the start of a novel. There were also two short stories.