It's the story of how a Glasgow gun enthusiast became embroiled in the world of fictional spy James Bond and the investigation into one of Scotland's most notorious serial killers, Peter Manuel.

It was back in the 1950's when Glasgow detectives probing three murders committed by Manuel called at the home of Geoffrey Boothroyd.

Boothroyd, English-born, was a 31-year-old bachelor living at 17 Regent Park Square, Glasgow and working as a technical representative for ICI. He was also the owner of a gun similar to the one used by Manuel. When questioned by police, Boothroyd was able to tell them that his gun had been sent south to be used on the cover of Ian Fleming's next James Bond novel. He was not kidding.

Later Fleming, with whom Boothroyd had been in correspondence, wrote to him to say: "Well, well, I am so sorry that the shadow of James Bond has fallen across your path so decisively."

Boothroyd's remarkable story has come to light in a new book, The Man With the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming's James Bond Letters, edited by the author's nephew, Fergus Fleming.

It was out of the blue in May 1956 that Boothroyd, a remarkably knowledgeable gun enthusiast, wrote to Fleming in May 1956 to say that the only thing he disliked about Bond in the novels was his "rather deplorable taste in firearms."

It was during this period too that Peter Manuel was embarking on murder spree. Later he was found guilty of killing seven people. including those of Marion Watt, her sister Margaret Brown and her daughter Vivienne Watt, at High Burnside on September 17, 1956. Manuel would subsequently be hanged at Barlinnie Prison on July 11, 1958.

In his initial correspondence with Fleming, Boothroyd pointed out that Bond's .25 Beretta was "really a lady's gun, and not a really nice lady at that." A revolver such as a Smith & Wesson .38 Special Centennial Airweight might be better.

Fleming thanked Boothroyd for his thoughts and said he would change Bond's gun in a subsequent novel. He added: "If ever there is talk of making films of some of James Bond's adventures in due course, I shall suggest to the company concerned that they might like to consult you on some technical aspects."

Boothroyd was a member of various gun clubs and told Fleming: "I cherish a dream that one day a large tiger or lion will escape from the zoo or a travelling circus and I can bag it in Argyle St., or Princes St., Edinburgh."

Boothroyd kept up a chatty correspondence and in August informed the author that he had now married.

Fleming had already written to ask if he could borrow Boothroyd's .38 Smith & Wesson for use by artist Richard Chopping for the cover of the next 007 adventure, From Russia With Love.

In the immediate wake of Burnside murders, police officers scoured the country to check up on licence-holders of .38 pistols. The book says that Boothroyd "lived in the vicinity and had just such a weapon" and "was high on the list of suspects."

On September 18 Boothroyd wrote to tell Fleming about the CID visit. "The reason for this uncalled-for interest in my collection is due to a very misguided character who slew two ladies and a girl on the outskirts of Glasgow on Sunday night using a .38 pistol. Believing that honesty was the best policy I told the two CID chaps that the pistol ... was in London in your possession."

"They saw my receipt which showed them when the pistol was posted and your telegram confirming safe arrival."

He added: "It is a funny world, the most unlikely events cause repercussions all over the place and our gunman friend would have to choose this time to go shooting people and he would have to use a .38."

Fleming was able to assure Scotland Yard that he had a valid Firearms Certificate - and that in any case Boothroyd was an "innocent party" in the matter.

In the next book, Bond's armourer, a 'Major Boothroyd', who would later become known as Q, confiscated 007's Beretta and gave him a "proper gun."

Fleming and Boothroyd finally met in Glasgow in 1961 when the author came up for an interview with Scottish Television.

Boothroyd was hired as a firearms consultant on the first Bond movie, Dr No, which was released in 1962. Fleming died in 1964 and Boothroyd in 2001.

Boothroyd went on to become the world's leading authority on shotguns. A 1994 interview with The Herald revealed that he once responded to a request by 007 producer Harry Saltzman on how to set an ocean on fire for a scene.

Boothroyd said that Bond, escaping on a motor boat full of fuel tanks, could jettison the tanks and shoot at them with his Walther, then fire at emergency flare pistol at them, so that the fuel would catch fire.

Other bond characters said to be inspired by real people.

* M: The fictional head of MI6 was reportedly modelled on Admiral John Henry Gregory, director of Naval Intelligence; Fleming worked under him during the war.

* Auric Goldfinger: the villain was said to have been named after Erno Goldfinger, a Budapest-born architect noted for his London tower-blocks. Fleming objected to Goldfinger's design for terraced houses in Hampstead. The architect reached for his lawyers when he learned that he would be in Fleming's book.

* Le Chiffre: According to some reports, this villain was based on Aleister Crowley, the occultist.

* Elliott Carver (Tomorrow Never Dies): In his book, Bond on Bond, Roger Moore writes: "A global media magnate who wanted to expand his empire, by any means, and in particular into China. Who does that remind you of?"