Cambridge is a town well experienced in repelling would-be boarders. I have never managed to drive directly to any goal in this town, even when I’ve had a GPS, or SatNav as they’re known here. This time I had only some scribbled notes from the map on my new iPad, and although on my second attempt I did spot the road I wanted, I was already past it. Oh well, thinks I, I’ll just turn around somewhere and come back.
An hour later, I found the road again.
Fortunately, once there, I could abandon the car and turn myself over to the insider tracking device of my friend Michelle Spring, who nonchalantly led an unerring way to the store I would have found only after forty minutes of casting about and begging bicycle-mounting students and scurrying shoppers for help.
But find this mythic mirage of a store she did, and we entered the welcoming doors of Heffer’s (now a part of the Blackwells chain, which sensibly kept the name) for their Bodies in the Bookshop event. Sixty three crime writers gathered to sell books and chat with readers and each other, comparing covers, talking about what’s next, catching up on the lives of colleagues we see a whole lot less often than people who work in offices see their colleagues. Just another typical example of the community of crime writers.
Then on Friday I took the tube into London, to drop in and sign books and to meet the writer whose book is the subject of discussion over at the Virtual Book Club this month, China Miėville. I adored The City and The City, and am having a great time with The Kraken, a whole different kind of book but equally stunning in its originality.
The afternoon I treated myself with a quick visit to the Museum of London, one of my very favorite museums, and then over to the Marylebone library, a stone’s throw from 221b Baker Street, which appropriately has a collection of Holmes material. I slanted my talk towards Holmes, although they seemed happy to talk about anything–and to my surprise, nearly half the audience were Americans, on holiday. The librarians were surprised, but pleased that I brought my own audience…
There followed drinks and dinner at the pub around the corner, the Allsop Arms, where the Sherlock Holmes society of London originally met, and remains a place for conviviality.