What an exciting month! I’ve been travelling again, this time a fascinating trip to Turkey. I published Blackmail In Bloomsbury, bringing me the best month’s book sales ever. I met one of my heroes. And I sent my next book, The Soho Jazz Murders, to my editor.
Read on for all this, plus recommendations and promotions.
Adventures in Turkey
I’ve long wanted to visit Turkey and I finally got the chance to tag along when my husband was asked to speak at a conference in Izmir, a big port city in the south of the country. While he worked, I had plenty of time to explore!
As one of the ‘WAGs’, I was invited on a tour of nearby Ephesus, an astonishing city from the days of the Roman Empire. We saw the remains of temples, amphitheatres, the forum, shops and houses – even a 20-seat lavatory! Most impressive of all was the rebuilt façade of the city library, pictured below right.
Izmir too has Roman-era remains, but I was most intrigued by the bazaar. I spent hours exploring the maze of streets, coming across shops selling everything from Barbie t-shirts to heaps of spices, kitchen utensils to antiques, soap to budgerigars. I met a friend of a friend who lives in the city and she guided me around, helping me purchase fragrant freshly-ground Turkish coffee to bring home. We then stopped at one of the many shops selling Cay (pronounced chai), Turkish black tea served in small glasses, cheap, delicious and refreshing. It certainly beat a trip to the supermarket.
Less cheap but equally delicious was the peach Bellini that I sipped on the rooftop of our hotel after a refreshing swim! My fellow WAGs had heard about my book launch, so they made sure that I had a suitable celebration.
Meeting a hero!
Agatha Christie loved travel. She wrote to a friend that ‘your travel life has the essence of a dream… you are yourself, but a different self.’ That ability to imagine different lives is, I think, one of the reasons that so many writers love to travel.
The quote above comes from historian Lucy Worsley’s biography of Agatha Christie. It’s extremely readable and tells a fascinating story of a life from Victorian girlhood into the 1970s. I’m a big fan of Miss Worsley’s history programmes and podcasts, so when she visited Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre to talk about Agatha Christie, I grabbed a ticket. She’s a brilliant presenter and it was a very entertaining evening. Not only is she formidably knowledgeable, she’s very funny and glamorous. She also remained kind and patient with all of us who’d queued to have her sign our books.
Recommendations: A Christie special
After all that gushing, it won’t surprise you to hear that my first recommendation is indeed for Lucy Worsley’s Agatha Christie. Her life involved two world wars, two marriages, a mysterious ‘disappearance’, intrepid journeys to Iraq and Egypt – not to mention writing an astonishing 80 books.
The second recommendation also comes via Lucy Worsley. Asked which her favourite Christie novel was, she nominated Murder At The Vicarage, in which the wily Miss Marple makes her first appearance. I’ve just re-read it and it is terrific. I liked the acidic way in which Miss Marple is described – the vicar’s wife say she’s ‘the worst cat in the village’ – and the humour of the vicar’s tribulations with his avidly curious parishioners, his ‘distractingly pretty’ wife and his appallingly bad cook. The mystery itself is satisfyingly twisty, with hidden couples, false identities and double bluffs. I was nowhere near guessing the true murderer when Miss Marple revealed it.
Blackmail In Bloomsbury looks like being my most successful book yet, which makes me very happy! Congratulations to Megwen Woodham, who won a signed copy of Blackmail In Bloomsbury for her correct response to my question last month.
One of my readers suggested Blackmail In Bloomsbury would make “the perfect Christmas present” for any lovers of classic crime… and far be it from me to disagree! If you think your mum, dad, aunt Maisie or friend at the book club would like it, why not grab a paperback? You can order from your local bookshop, or via the button below.
If you’ve already finished it and are anxiously awaiting the next in the series, good news! I’ve sent the first draft of The Soho Jazz Murders to my editor and all is going well for publication in January.
Here’s the cover – as you can see my designer Donna has come up trumps again with a lovely design.
You can pre-order your e-book copy now.
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