And here, also, is the original picture it's based on - painted especially! Can you believe that? Can you also please excuse all the exclamation marks in this post, while you are at it? Thank you). It will wrap around the book. The painting is by a very talented artist called Julie Zarate. If I could hug her I would too. The wonderful David Thompson of Busted Flush Press is also getting a hug. For publishing OLD DOGS and for coming up with such a great cover. In fact, I'm so happy, everyone can have a hug.
"Now, that's all very smashing and that, but quite enough of you, Donna," I hear you say. "Where is our scheduled news about Scottish crime fiction?" Well, I'm sorry, dad, but I have just arrived up in Aberdeen for a couple of days and haven't had time to do a proper post. Here, in the meantime, is a piece of nonsense, which just serves to give me the salutary lesson that I should never, ever try my hand at historical fiction.
GLAD HE ATE HERSorry...
It was 124 BC, and I was on my fourth dead body of the week.
The first three were routine Christians thrown to the lions,
but this one was different - the death of a young man wearing
the purple robes of a senator would need to be investigated
carefully and the obvious solution of poisoning by this year's
mad Emperor covered up as usual.
I sighed as my sergeant rushed up excitedly, his toga looking
as though it hadn't seen the Tiber's washerwomen for a month
or two, and his sandals incorrectly laced in his hurry to get
to the crime scene. I'd obviously roused him from the dual
pleasures of a jug of Falernian wine and the scented arms
of the Greek snake charmer Athenia.
"Hail Clavdivs!" he saluted breathlessly.
I sighed. "Soggidubnus," I reprimanded him, "How many times
do I have to tell you - it's Claudius. We Ancient Romans only
SPELL it Clavdivs because we don't yet have writing implements
that do curved letters easily. Now, get down to Headquarters
and get the forensics team up here PDQ".
I bent down and picked up the calfskin wallet lying by the body.
I needn't worry about fingerprints – after all, they hadn't been
invented yet. I pulled out the Chariot Driving Licence and
studied the charcoal drawing that looked remarkably like the
dead man. Charltonius Hestonius.
At that moment, the Medical Examiner arrived. "Dr Hannibalis
Lectorus," I shook his hand "this is a nasty one. We'll have to
get the full might of the CSIus Laboratorius on this one.
How do you think he was killed?"
Dr Lectorus licked his lips and surveyed the dead Senator.
"Do you see the wheel marks and hoof prints?" he said. It
looks to me as though someone drove over him and then just
to make sure, reversed the horse and drove over him backwards.
We've seen a few of these recently."
"You're thinking a Chariot Rage incident?" I said. "What with
these and the ram raids, this is getting tedious."
"Ram raids?" asked Lectorus. "That's a new one on me."
"You must have seen the reports in the Papyrii." I said.
"Some young rams have been raiding shops in the High Street.
Walmarticus has been hit twice. The new spring season togas
were abominably munched by the marauding rams."