VITA BREVIS now in paperback in the USA!

Vita Brevis HB coverVITA BREVIS, the story of Ruso and Tilla’s trip to Rome, is published in paperback in America today!

Ask at your local bookshop, or find it at Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Meanwhile, also in the USA, MEDICUS – the first book in the series – is still a July Deal on Kindle.

Apologies to friends here in the UK – the paperback IS on the way, and will appear on 7 September.  Hive (which supports your local bookshop), Amazon and The Book Depository already have it listed and will be very happy to receive pre-orders.










MEDICUS – Kindle deal in N America

I’m delighted to say that MEDICUS, Ruso and Tilla’s first adventure, is a Kindle bargain deal for the month of July in the US and Canada.  Thanks to Camilla for sending this link to

Cover of Medicus with review quote

It isn’t available electronically in the UK at the moment I’m afraid… it WILL be back, and believe me, there will be major celebrations at Downie Towers when it is.



‘Medicus’ is today’s Kindle UK Daily Deal!

The headline says it all, really! Just for today, the first book in the series is a bargain £1.19 on Kindle in the UK. Hopefully that evens things up for folks this side of the pond who’ve been unable to access American deals in the past.*

Cover of Medicus with review quote

*Just a note of caution for anyone who’s read “Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls” – this is the same book, retitled to fit in with the rest of the series.

How not to give the game away – in Czech

One of the challenges of writing a crime novel is to slip in enough clues to keep the reader – and the sleuth – guessing, while not giving away so much that there are no surprises at the end. I never really know whether I’ve got the balance right until someone else reads it.  Husband, having suffered endless “what-if” conversations during the writing process, already knows Who Dun It, so the someone is usually the agent.  My agent is a perceptive reader who doesn’t miss much, so on the occasion when she reached the bottom of the final page and STILL wasn’t entirely sure who the murderer was… I knew I’d erred too far on the side of caution.

At least I usually know where the clues are. Or rather, I thought I did.  I’ve recently had an interesting exchange of emails with the Czech translator, Viktor Janis, who’s working on the first book. Amongst the sort of questions translators ask, which are usually technical stuff about the Romans, there was one about language. There’s a point where Priscus, the hospital administrator, refers to someone whose job title, in English, is a generic term.  The character could be male or female. Not so in Czech. There isn’t a word that’s suitably vague, and as Viktor pointed out, to come down on one side or the other would give away more than either Ruso or the reader needs to know at that point.

We agreed a way round it, but it occurred to me that a translator who wasn’t as sharp might not have spotted the significance of the exchange. I’m grateful to Viktor for plucking out a totally unintentional and mistimed clue.

Here’s where to find the Czech edition of Ruso and Tilla’s first adventure, which will be published very soon.

‘Medicus’ e-book for free!

To celebrate the publication of Caveat Emptor, the nice people at Bloomsbury USA are giving away a free e-book of ‘Medicus’ – for the next few days only.

As it’s the American edition, I’m in the bizarre position of not being able to download my own book – tho’ since umpteen versions of it are splattered all over the computer here, that’s hardly a problem. But if you live in the USA (and for all I know it may be available in other countries too), try one of these links to grab it while you can:

for Nook

for Kindle

for Google e-books

UPDATE – thanks to Gene for pointing out that Canadian readers can find it here:

for Kobo

Ruso and the Disappearing Paperback

Just in case anyone’s wondering where it’s gone…

Cover of Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls

At the moment stocks of  ‘Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls’* are pretty much sold out. Apologies to the people who’ve tried to get hold of it and can’t, but the nice people at Penguin say it should be available again by the end of the month.

LATER – meanwhile, if you have one of those thingies to read it on, you can buy it here from Penguin as an e-book.

*that’s the UK edition of Ruso and Tilla’s first adventure.

Thanks, Tony.

The smiling chap is the excellent Tony Kesten, a fellow-excavator at Whitehall Roman Villa. Tony happens to be a friend of the librarian at Monticello, NY, and managed to pull off a publicity double-act last week by giving copies of all three Ruso books to the library and having himself photographed with them while modelling this year’s Whitehall teeshirt.

Tony in Monticello Public Library

Now that’s what I call enterprising. Meanwhile, some of us were hard at work back in the trenches.

Ruth in trench with trowel
"You mean I was supposed to find something down here?"

All grist to the mill – ?

Finally emerged from Fluland, a parallel universe in which one wanders through the motions of everyday life without much grasp of anything beyond the next five minutes.

A comment from Mark after my recent grumbling about the absence of flu from fiction suggests that writers squirrel away experiences that emerge later – and of course he’s right.

There’s an incident in the first book where Ruso decides to treat an injury to his own toe. I’ve never tried this myself and certainly don’t recommend it, but many years ago I found myself in a hospital casualty department with two nurses, a bunsen burner and a thin metal probe.

As the junior nurse approached my very sore toe with the red-hot probe her senior colleague asked, ‘Have you ever done this before?’

‘No,’ said the junior nurse.

‘Really?’ said the senior one. ‘Actually, neither have I.’