Murder, mystery, melodrama, skulduggery, derring-do, international espionage, dangerous liaisons, villainous foreigners, the British class system, a couple of sentimental music hall numbers, significant incidents on battleships, thrilling chases in motor cars, desperate escapades on railway trains, fights to the death armed with only a duck pate sandwich,
all in correct gentleman's attire.
A new hero. A new series of historical entertainments.
In 1968, Le Figaro reported the discovery of a dossier of papers in a concealed compartment in a trunk, 'the property of a lady'; they proved to be the memoirs of the 'renowned traveller, adventurer and libertine' Harry Delamere, in the years before the First World War. Made public at last after 50 years, his exploits are now being published in a series of historical thrillers...
Robert: Death and the Dreadnought is what I wrote when I was supposed to be writing something else. I'd been asked for a modern thriller - heavier, worthier - and it was pretty hard going. I kept skiving off and writing another chapter of Delamere instead. It's a marvellous period to write about - the brittle glamour at the end of the Edwardian age, the new technologies and the old styles, just before the world collapsed into war. And Harry Delamere is just a blast to write: a fallen gentleman, an adventurer, arguably decent but rather dissolute, a man of principles but probably not the proper ones, and increasingly irritated as he finds himself caught up in a plot to steal British naval technology.