The Blog


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 Unpublished.)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 [...]
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