Cole Porter & Sherlock Holmes, Misbehaving

Whenever I set out to write one of my 1920s novels, I first choose the location, then rummage around to see who was there at the time. I’ve come across some fascinating characters that way–characters in both senses of the word: Sabine Baring-Gould in Dartmoor; Dashiell Hammett in San Francisco; Marshal Lyautey in Morocco—real life, all of them. People I probably couldn’t have made up.

Not that I don’t create characters from scratch. These are novels, not thinly fictionalized histories—but stirring in well-known places and faces can ground a story, giving (as Gilbert & Sullivan admitted) artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.

Then sometimes, one of those actual people elbows aside my own created ones to seize center stage.

Such as Cole Porter. When I started writing Island of the Mad

[read the rest on Dear Reader, here.]

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Order information:

US edition—signed, from Poisoned Pen Books; signed, from Bookshop Santa Cruz;signed (as tip-in pages) from Barnes & Noble.

Unsigned from your local Indie;from Amazon/Kindle;from Barnes & Noble/Nook.

UK edition—from Allison & Busby;from Heffer’s.

Or download the audiohere.


  1. Chris on June 18, 2018 at 6:19 am

    I loved this latest instalment. I’ve taken the liberty of leaving a review over on Amazon’s UK site (even though I purchased via an indie!)

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