I’m going back to the UK next week for a few days, and I’m very pleased to be able to fit in a few events at Waterstones, namely :-

Wednesday 20th June : signing at Waterstones Carmarthen from 12.00 – 13.00

Thursday 21st June : evening talk and Q&A at Waterstones Swansea from 18.30 onwards

If you’re in the area, please do come along and say hi. Or ciao. Or bore da.

Elsewhere, there’s now an official release date of July 5th (although there’s always the chance of it appearing a bit earlier – Caroline spotted “Il Ponte dei Delitti” on the shelves at a supermarket in Mestre last year, a week before the official date51BiBA-UYyL) for Vendetta a Venezia, which, I’m sure you can guess, is the Italian translation of Vengeance in Venice. Here’s the cover, a lovely piece of work from Newton Compton…

And, on the subject of covers, here’s the first look at next year’s “The Venetian Masquerade”. We’ve moved away from the ‘lone gondolier’ theme of the first two books. Again, wonderful work from the good people at Constable. 51NPo+SJyEL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_


I think that’s pretty much all the news there is for now – but I’d just like to say a very big thank you to Tim Bruce and everyone at Audible for the great job they’ve done on the audios of “The Venetian Game” and “Vengeance in Venice”. I’ve enjoyed them immensely, and Tim…Tim really is Nathan Sutherland! Congratulations to all involved.

“Vengeance” is launched..

Okay, the book’s been available for over a month now, but I still felt there was need to mark the event in some way.

A memorable afternoon, lovely to see so many people there, some of whom had travelled quite a long way for some prosecco (by which I mean a lot), some snacks (by which I mean a staggering amount), and the chance to hear why I think David Hemmings and Daria Nicolodi would be perfect casting as Nathan and Federica (if we could only invent a time machine).

Here are some photos of the event, for which I must thank my friend Roger Branson : a very nice man, a photographer of rare talent, and a man who – as onetime personal assistant to Michael Winner – can genuinely claim to have done the worst job in the world.

Here’s a link to his webpage, do check his work out :-

Roger Branson Photography

Whatever happened to “The Venice Project”?

An unexpected, but very welcome, side-effect of the success of “The Venetian Game” was the impact it had on sales of my first book, the self-published “The Venice Project”.

You may have noticed that the page for that book has been removed from this site. And, indeed, that it’s no longer available from Amazon.

The reason is that Little, Brown are republishing it next year as a large-format paperback with additional material.

I owe an immense amount to this little book, without which none of Nathan Sutherland’s adventures would ever have come to light. I’ve recently re-read it, for the first time in years, and I still think it stands up well. So I’m absolutely delighted that it’s now going to be professionally published and widely distributed. And I’m looking forward to revising it, and taking the story beyond its initial ending.

Apologies to those of you who’ve found themselves unable to buy a copy – I promise you, it will be worth the wait. For those of you who recently bought a copy – well, you now have a very, very limited edition indeed as that version is not going to be available again.

Further information on cover and contents as soon as I have it…

To Venice with Love : A Midlife Adventure will be available from March 7th 2019, and is already available for pre-order.


Okay, there’s been quite a bit of news on upcoming releases in the last couple of weeks.

Firstly, I’m delighted to say to my Italian readers that Newton Compton (who did a fine job with a beautifully-produced “Venetian Game”) will be releasing an Italian translation of “Vengeance in Venice” at some point in, hopefully, the not-too-distant future. No dates as yet, it’s far too early for that, but it is going to happen.

Secondly, you might have noticed that both “Game” and “Vengeance” are now available in three formats on Amazon – paperback, kindle and audio. Yes, the audio downloads of both will be available within the next six weeks or so – “Game” scheduled for May 17th, and “Vengeance” for the 31st. Tim Bruce is the narrator, who has a load of experience in Italian-based thrillers, and I’m very much looking forward to hearing these myself.

And finally, “The Venetian Masquerade” is available for pre-order from Amazon, Waterstones and probably other places as well. Nothing so exciting as a cover image or a blurb as yet! I’ll let you know when there’s more…

In the meantime, from a bright and sunny Venice (I give it perhaps a week before I start complaining about the heat), a very good weekend to all!

Publication Day

I haven’t got very much time to write, but I have got a lot of people to thank…

Big thanks to everyone at Constable and at Waterstones who are doing a great, great job of supporting both “The Venetian Game” and “Vengeance in Venice”. It was a pleasure to be in London last weekend, doing a round of bookshops and signing stock. Everybody was lovely, and it was a lot of fun.

I’m delighted to be going back to Wales in June for a signing at Carmarthen Waterstones at 12.00 on June 20th, and a talk and a Q&A at the Swansea branch at 6.30 on 21st June. It would be great to do some more signings around the country – it really does depend on when I’m back in the UK, but I will try.

Thanks to the design team at Constable for the splendid Twitter/Facebook/Webpage header – I’m absolutely rubbish at this sort of thing, and the site looks so much better for your work.

Mainly, of course, a very big thank you to all of you – do please keep reading.

More news on future releases to come, but I think that’s enough at the end of a very busy day. I need, in no particular order, a lie-down and a Negroni…

Many thanks again!


“Vengeance” and beyond…

Well it’s been a mad, mad couple of weeks – and some of you will know a lot of the news already – but I think it’s worth setting down what’s happening over the next few months and beyond.

If you’ve pre-ordered “Vengeance in Venice” you’ll probably have received an email saying that publication has now slipped a week to April 12th. This is for the happiest of reasons as Waterstones have requested a few more thousand copies, and the cover finish is being tweaked slightly in terms of embossing etc. I can’t be more precise than that as I haven’t seen it myself yet, but I’m assured it looks lovely.

Moving forward, I’m absolutely delighted to say that “The Venetian Masquerade” will follow in the spring of 2019, and that a fourth Nathan Sutherland novel is confirmed for 2020.

As I said, it’s been a mad couple of weeks, but in a good way. My agent emailed me last Saturday morning to tell me that “The Venetian Game” was #4 in the Times bestselling paperback fiction list (*). Caroline was out, so I had no-one to hug. I picked up Mimi and gave her a cuddle. She gave a confused little n’yeep sound and her paws flailed through the air, albeit in a non-destructive way. In the end, I went to the wine shop and hugged the guy there instead.

A very, very big thank you to all of you!

(* It’s since made it as far as #2. And #1 in The Bookseller’s “Heatseeker” list. I am running out of people to hug.)


Cooking with Nathan : Pies, Peas and Parsnips.

I’m writing in the Marciana library and Caroline emails me a link from “The Guardian”.

It is about pies.

Immediately I want a pie.

I am in Italy. I could have risotto with squid ink, fish fried in the crispiest of batter or one of the finest steaks in the world. I could even have a pizza.

But I cannot have a pie. Unless I make it myself.

The bust of Petrarch stares down at me disapprovingly as I close my laptop and make my way to the exit, as if summoned by the Bat Signal…

Meat pie with peas and parsnips

Ingredients (for two hungry people)

400g of stewing steak

2 onions

Sprig of  rosemary/thyme

150ml red wine

150 ml water

200g flour

100g suet


4 parsnips

Tin of mushy peas

Bottle of Henderson’s relish

Some gin

Two good-sized cans of tonic water


  1. I cooked this to Weber’s Oberon. A deeply, deeply silly opera, but then you’re making a pie. In Italy. ‘Silly’ is not something that need trouble us.
  2. Make two gin and tonics, and distribute them.
  3. Thinly slice the onions and cook them on a low flame until soft and just a little golden.
  4. Cut the beef into bite size chunks and give them a good shake in seasoned flour. Then crank up the heat, add them to the pan, and let them sizzle for a bit until they’re nicely browned.
  5. Finely chop the rosemary and thyme, and throw them into the pan along with the red wine and water.
  6.  A word here on Henderson’s Relish. Caroline introduced me to this miracle ingredient almost twenty years ago. It only seems to be available in Sheffield, and, quite simply, there is no meat dish that it IMG_2480.jpgcannot improve. You could be eating a fillet of kobe beef, personally cooked sous vide by the ghost of Paul Bocuse : a shake of the Henderson’s bottle would improve it (and M Bocuse would, probably, understand). However, in the absence of a good shake of the Henderson’s bottle you need something else to add umami (or, to use the technical term, pieiness) of it all. A shake of Worcestershire sauce, a tablespoon of tomato puree or chuck an anchovy in if you like…you get the idea.
  7. Stick a lid on the pan and let it cook for as long as you like on the lowest heat possible.
  8. Make your pastry. I find 200g of flour and 100g of suet, brought together with water, is just right.
  9. Roll out your pastry. At this point, realise that you have not made a pie for six years and have no idea where the rolling pin is. Do not despair! Like Bear Grylls, like Ray IMG_2481.jpgMears, like Phaedrus in Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance your job is now to survive with the tools at hand. I started with the empty can of tonic, but this crumpled too easily. A full can, however, did a perfectly satisfactory job. It is not going to make a pastry that you can see your hand through, but it will be fine for a pie.
  10. Congratulate yourself on your improvisational skills. At this point, you may treat yourself to another gin and tonic. Do Not use the tonic can that you have just been using to roll the pastry with.
  11. Line two pie dishes. Yes, you could use one big dish, and it would look very fine, but nothing says I love you like a whole pie of your very own, does it? Glaze the lids with a little milk (use a beaten egg if you’ve got one. I didn’t).
  12. Put them in the oven for 20 minutes at gas mark 6, and then another 50 at gas mark 4. But it’s a forgiving recipe, so don’t worry too much about it.IMG_2482.jpg
  13. Roast the parsnips. This is an odd concept for Italians. They do not eat parsnips. Many of them do not even know the word – pastinaca – for parsnip. And, on the occasions when I’ve done lessons on British food, the general reaction of students has been : you eat these? So this is not something you are going to be able to find in Conad. Fortunately, we’d brought back a few bags from Edinburgh. Yes. We brought back vegetables from our trip back to the UK. Along with some mushy peas. And some suet. On a plane. I know how this sounds. Anyway, roast the parsnips – if you have a double oven and can crank up the heat, so much the better. If not, they are going to be a little compromised but still nice – put them in the gas mark 4 oven and turn them every ten minutes or so.
  14. Mushy peas. You could make your own, but only serial killers do that. Take the lid off the can, and warm them through.
  15. Gently turn the pies out onto a plate. You could, if you wished, make a little “Jenga” tower out of the parsnips and put the peas in a mould, but I managed to fight the temptation.
  16. Eat, with copious amounts of red wine and a shaking of the Henderson’s bottle.IMG_2484.jpg

    Next time, we’ll be back to Italian food. But, every so often, a reminder of the old country is very welcome.

    And that can of tonic should be just fine for general use in a day or two…





The news came through just after my last class on Friday. Waterstones had chosen “The Venetian Game” as their “Thriller of the Month” for March.

I was, of course, honoured, thrilled and more than a little surprised. I took it in an appropriately dignified manner; which is to say I bounced around the staff room burbling away in hybrid Italian-English and trying to hug random people. Then I made my way to the Marciana library with the intention of spending the afternoon writing, fighting the impulse to embrace passers-by or break into a spontaneous song and dance routine en route.

I made my way halfway there, stopped for a celebratory spritz, realised that no productive work was ever going to be done, and made my way home again.

Coincidentally, we were both heading back to Edinburgh the following week, which gave me the opportunity for a stock signing at Waterstones on Princes Street.

We arrived to find the city under a blanket of snow and in the middle of a blizzard. It didn’t get any better. On the IMG_2465morning of March 1st, the city ground to a halt. The roads were blocked. There was no public transport, with the exception of the much-maligned tram system, and the airport bus service, ferrying passengers to an airport that was never going to open.

But, somehow, Waterstones had received their consignment of books. The sensible thing to do, perhaps, would have been to wait for a couple of days.IMG_2468 But no. It was St David’s Day 2018 and the first day of Thriller of the Month. We were going to walk there through horizontal snow and biting, icy blasts of wind. Through a semi-deserted Edinburgh with snow and ice; a blasted landscape resembling Tarkovsky’s Stalker. We were going to get to Waterstones, and I, damn it, was going to sign books.

And we did.

The staff were lovely and Euan, the events manager, sat us down in the cafe with a IMG_2463trolley full of books to sign, and some coffee in an attempt to restore some movement to our limbs. I do apologise to those who buy the earlier copies I signed, before my hands had started working properly again : my signature is rather more of a scrawl than usual, but perhaps that makes them more of a collector’s item?

All too soon it was time to leave. Back out into the snow and the howling wind. I do not think I have ever been so cold in my life. I also know it was worth every last freezing minute.

With thanks to the brilliant staff of Waterstones, Princes Street. You are, of course, utterly mad for coming in to work on a day like that, but I love you for it!IMG_2471

And apologies to those people we didn’t manage to meet up with. The weather banjaxed everything. Hopefully we’ll be back later in the year.

Cooking with Nathan : Cacio e Pepe (sbagliato)

It’s Sunday night. Lunch was a brace of spritzes and possibly the best porchetta sandwich in the world at the Corner Pub in Dorsoduro. But now I’m hungry again. There’s a fine piece of tuna in the freezer that I could make a pasta sauce from. All I need to do is travel back in time four hours and defrost it.

The fridge is a sad affair. There’s a quarter of a radicchio and some unexciting brie. Will it have to be pizza? No! Because there’s a big block of parmesan, some pepper, and some dried pasta. And if you have these you need never go hungry again.

Spaghetti cacio e pepe is hip. Tragically so. More than that, everyone has their own recipe for it and will tell you that you’re doing it wrong.

1) I know I am doing it wrong.

2) I am hungry and I do not care.

So here is my recipe for Incorrect Cacio e Pepe. Or, if you prefer, Cacio e Pepe sbagliato.

Ingredients (serves 2 people)

150g linguine (should be spaghetti but I haven’t got any)

Parmesan. Lots. (should be pecorino romano. You know what I’m going to say, don’t you..?)

2 tsp peppercorns (these, I have)


  1. Put the pasta water on to boil.
  2. Put some music on. This won’t take much time. This is not a Ring Cycle dish. We had Alban Berg’s piano sonata, and that pretty much covered it.
  3. Pour two modest glasses of prosecco. One for you, one for Caroline. Or, if Caroline is not there, your wife, husband, partner etc…
  4. Toast the two teaspoons of peppercorns for a few minutes, just to release the aromas, and then grind them with a pestle and mortar.
  5. Finely grate a lot of parmesan. I don’t really know how much. Just a lot. Fifty grams plus should do it, but, if you want to, keep grating until you can grate no more…
  6. Beat in a little pasta water until you have a nice emulsified sauce (I found two coffee cups worked well as a measure).
  7. Drain and toss the cooked pasta in the sauce. Serve with copious quantities of red wine.

For a quick tea with staples from the fridge, this is hard to beat. I could have happily eaten as much again. Caroline could have done with twice as much cheese, and half as much pepper, but I rather like the way that this makes your mouth sing with the heat.

At the end of the day, this is a very personal dish. Everyone will have their own variation. Everyone will tell you that your version is wrong. My version is made with what’s in the fridge and, as such, it suits me just fine…


Drinking with Nathan : The Magical Brazilians

Yes, they do exist, and they’re on the Rio Tera dei Assassini, just round the corner and downstairs from Nathan’s apartment. And back in the days where we lived not that far away, in Campo Santo Stefano, we used to go there quite a lot.


They’re actually called the Caffè Brasilia. But they will always be The Magical Brazilians to me. Why? Well, if you’re a British man of my age, you will remember a time when football on television wasn’t quite as ubiquitous as it is now. The only live game IMG_2142you were likely to see was the FA Cup final, and highlights were restricted to a couple of games on Match of the Day and The Big Match. Football, even if you watched it in colour – hell, even if you watched it live – was one of those things that seemed to exist in black and white.

Except when the World Cup came round, with agonising slowness, every four years. When, for a month, there would be football on television almost every day. But not football as we knew it. This was football that – even if you watched it in black and white – seemed to be played in the brightest of technicolour. I was too young to remember the great Brazilian side of 1970, and so my first experience of what football could actually be was the Brilliant Orange of the 1974 Dutch side, carving out patterns of Mondrian-like geometrical perfection on the pitch. I saw Johan Cruyff in his pomp. Even if I was eight years old, and it was on television.

Flash forward to 1982. The Dutch have declined, a lad called Diego Maradona might just be a bit too young to steer Argentina to the title, and the Germans, as ever, are a bit useful. Italy? They’re reduced to playing some guy called Paolo Rossi, just back after a two year suspension following a huge match-fixing scandal. Nobody expects anything from them (*).

No, there’s only one team in this competition, and that’s Brazil. They’ve got Zico. They’ve got Falcao. They’ve got Socrates, the chain-smoking, hard-drinking Marxist doctor of medicine. And they’ve got, well, some bloke that no-one really remembers in goal, but that doesn’t really matter because the basic philosophy of this team is : if you can score three, we can always score four. They are, after all, Brazilian.

Except that they’re not. Because for four weeks in the summer of 1982, they were inevitably referred to as “The Magical Brazilians”. And ever since then, in my mind at least, the word “Brazilian” must, by law, be paired with the adjective “Magical”.

And so the caffè Brasilia became The Magical Brazilians. The staff weren’t Brazilian (I changed this in the book, so that Ed, the barman, is) but they made a magical Negroni. The piece de resistance was to rub a little orange peel around the rim of the glass, and then carefully, oh so carefully, crush the zest and set light to the fumes giving a burnt, bitter-orange perfume to the very first sip. It was no ordinary Negroni. It was a Magical Negroni, a work of art worthy of the most Magical of Brazilians.

They changed hands a couple of years ago. The Negronis are still good, but they don’t flame any more and it’s not quite the same. Still, it’s time I paid them another visit. It was almost certainly there, nearly five years ago now, sitting outside with a Magical Negroni that I started to think…”Street of the Assassins, eh?”

(* Rossi always denied the match-fixing claims. In the end, his hat trick would knock out the Magical Brazilians in perhaps the World Cup game to end all World Cup games. They would go on to win the tournament. Those images and stories from 1982 – Sandro Pertini playing cards with Dino Zoff, Rossi’s three goals, Tardelli’s scream, Bearzot implacable on the touchline with his pipe – are, in all seriousness, the very foundation of my love affair with this country).