Books

Amuse Yourself: The Virus VS The Story

It’s easy to forget there are actual words inside them Excellent news; book sales are up thanks to Lockdown; no real surprise there. Fiction dipped slightly but general sales are good, probably driven by desperation for something to do that wasn’t watching Netflix or cleaning out the composter. But we were already doing well; British […]

Bloody Deeds In Post-Fire London

The year is 1678 – twelve years after the Great Fire has left London’s heart in ruins, with the city still overlooked by the severed head of Oliver Cromwell. It’s a time when Titus Oates presented his wild-eyed evidence of a Popish plot, the great conspiracy to have King Charles II murdered. Catholic peers were […]

London Life

I have quite a few London books, a couple going back to the middle of the 19th century. Via these volumes you can see the coverage of our fair city reduce from lengthy chapters to key points – the more obscure legends and stories disappear just as the streets themselves vanish, and we are left […]

The Book Keeping Test

When I was a child I believed that all books had to be read to the end. I’m surprised that this determination to plough on with, say, ‘Travels on a Donkey’ didn’t put me off reading for life. Now I keep a living library built on a one-out-one-in basis because I don’t have room for […]

The Lockdown Library Is Now Closing

As our poll-obsessed premier continues to loosen Lockdown I find my own fate inextricably blurred with the pandemic. After testing clear for COVID last week I am now venturing out on sorties (one to a vast, deserted supermarket, one to the canal and back), each a minor stroll, now both like climbing the North face […]

Back In The Jug Agane

The healing process is not quite as linear as I’d hoped it would be. Not to sound too Blanche Dubois, but there are good days and ones where the mirrors must be turned… So let’s look at the good news. I’ve been nominated for several awards. The Last Laugh for Best Comic Novel, for ‘The […]

This Is Not A Test: Questions About Crime Novels

While I cleared all of the second-rate crime novels from the shelves that I have hung onto for sentimental reasons, I was thinking about what crime novels could or should be. Here are a few questions I have about crime fiction in general. Crime accounts for over a third of all fiction published in the […]

If There Was Ever A Time To Fall In Love With Books It’s Now

Readers wouldn’t dream of standing near each other. Lockdown began on March 23rd. It is now May 20th. We have learned a lot by staying at home and pressing the reset button. We can connect instead of avoiding each other and more focussed thinking can replace replace speed-skimming through our days. We’re reprioritising who is […]

Total Midnight

My monster in a box was meant to have been locked away with the lid nailed down by now. What seemed like a grand idea may become (to mix metaphors) my albatross. The box contains just about every published story I’ve ever written, some revised into definitive versions, minus a handful I didn’t deem good […]

Thought-Provoking Lockdown Reads: ‘The Anarchy’

Each day I’ll be looking at one of the five books featured above. Today: ‘The Anarchy’ by William Dalrymple. I’ve enjoyed the Mr William Dalrymple’s insightful books on India since I read ‘City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi’, and once used it as a practical guide. ‘The Anarchy’ feels like a subject he was […]