The Blog


For the Silly Season I've set myself the challenge of visiting a different art exhibition on every day of the month and blogging about it. Monday 3 August Exhibition: Cornelius Johnson, Charles I’s Forgotten PainterPlace: National Portrait Gallery [...]


For the Silly Season I've set myself the challenge of visiting a different art exhibition on every day of the month and blogging about it. Sunday 2 AugustExhibit: Christine Mackie: the filtersPlace:  Tate Britain Even as the doors of Tate Britain s [...]

The August challenge

  For the Silly Season I've set myself the challenge of visiting a different art exh bition on every day of the month and posting a blog about it. The shows will be chosen in a reasonably ad hoc way from public and commercial galleries, as well as p [...]

Crisis in Greece

In the second canto of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Byron agonises over the enslavement of Greece. The hero arrives there at carnival time....But midst the throng of merry masqueradeLurk there no hearts that throb with secret pain,Even through the clo [...]

What's in a Title?

I doubt readers often pause to wonder how a novel came by its title. Occasionally a title might invite a question, either because it’s obscure (The Quincunx) or archly complicated (The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B). But for the most part we leav [...]

Your Sorrowful Reptile

On 15 March 1780, the Wiltshire clergyman-naturalist Gilbert White noted in his diary: “Mrs Snooke buried”. His next entry, a couple of days later, recorded:  “Brought away Mrs Snooke’s old tortoise, Timothy, which she valued much & had treated k [...]

Golgotha's Man

The memoirs of Peter Scott, the prolific high-end-of-society burglar who died last week aged 82, were published as Gentleman Thief. That title was not his preference, and Scott had to be persuaded to adopt it. I think the reason he did not like it wa [...]

Stubbs: the Georgians' David Attenborough

The news is that two 1772 paintings by Stubbs – The Kongourou from New Holland and The Dingo – are to be sold from the collection at Parham Park, Sussex. If the export of these important works is to be prevented – not surprisingly A [...]

James Joyce in Winter

I post this on the 72nd anniversary of the death of James Joyce in Zurich, as he failed to recover from an operation for a perforated ulcer.  He died twenty days short of  his 59th birthday.   This was wartime, and James and No [...]

The Wreck of the Wager

18th century gentlemen, professionals and merchants subscribed in large numbers to a monthly publication that claimed (according to the Preface to its volume for 1742) to be "highest in the Esteem of the Learned, Inquisitive and Judicious" in providi [...]

An 18th Century Stocking-Filler

In the new Cragg and Fidelis novel Dark Waters, which is published tomorrow, 2 August, an intriguing little volume called Penkethman’s Jests has a moment of its own. Titus Cragg, always interested in a book, notices it at the bedside of the Iri [...]

Stealing Beauty

Art crime in fact and fiction(Originally written in August 2011. Unpublished.) Dr No, the first James Bond film made in 1962, features a bravura piece of set-dressing. Penetrating the arch-criminal’s headquarters, 007 walks by an easel displaying Go [...]

Reflections on A Dark Anatomy

 upon its publication by Minotaur in America.   From the outset A Dark Anatomy was framed as a detective mystery with two fundamental elements: the location to be Preston, in the north-west of England, where I was born; the time to be abo [...]

Save the Library

Towards the end of 2009 the UK government (then New Labour) published a consultation paper about the future of libraries. It contained some alarming proposals for privatising or voluntarising the library service, while watering down the legal obligat [...]

The Police in Old Egypt

If you want to know the mid-18th century’s state of knowledge on almost any topic it’s a good idea go to their version of Wikipedia, the French Encyclopédie edited by Denis Diderot and Jean D’Alembert, which was first published in 1754. A cooperative [...]

Leonardo and Miracles

Over the last week I’ve been writing about Leonardo da Vinci, ahead of the exhibition opening at the National Gallery in London on 9 November. Like everyone who gets interested in Leonardo, I’ve been puzzling over him, and wondering in pa [...]

A Reader Named Foxsford

On the amazon website a reader named “foxsford” has posted a single-starred review of A Dark Anatomy. Here it is in full :  “A better title for A dark anatomy would be A pale reflection. The writing is facile and thin; just [...]

The Detection Club Oath

“Do you promise that your detectives shall well and truly detect the crimes presented to them, using those wits which it may please you to bestow on them, and not placing reliance on nor making use of Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition, Mumb [...]

The Jottings Section is now live

I will be using the jottings section on my new website to put up information about the Cragg & Fidelis novels and information about the release of A Dark Anatomy, do use the social networking icons at the bottom of the page to bookmark the site o [...]

Publication Date....

A Dark Anatomy is due for publication on  March 4th 2011. The book is available for pre-order at various websites including: Pan Macmillan Goldsboro Books Waterstones Tescos and more.. [...]
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