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Foul play in Hull

It is always interesting to see what happens when a literary novelist turns to genre fiction. Swan Song is the third novel of Robert Edric’s trilogy about Leo Rivers, a private investigator based in modern Hull. The format is instantly familiar because Rivers is a modernised and home-grown Philip Marlowe — detective, knight-errant and laconic

The battles of a lively young cub

In June 1944 two prospective Labour MPs, Harold Wilson and Kenneth Younger, travelled back to London, unsuccessful in seeking the Peterborough candidacy. On the train, they compared notes on the difficult adoption process. Both were returned to Parliament next year in the Labour landslide, but though Wilson was to become prime minister, Kenneth Younger remains

Best of friends | 27 August 2005

Birds are our pals. They awaken us, sing us happy songs and delight us with their plumage colours. In the garden they are undemanding visitors, not inferior to neighbours or family. The migrating species perform feats of navigation that in a human would have that person crowned upon landfall. They can fly at great speed

Why Rome fell

I n the decade before his death in 1982, the science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick was afflicted with a powerful delusion. He became convinced that the Roman empire was still in existence; that despite what was written in all the history books it had in fact never fallen. Nineteen-seventies California was merely a false projection,

Lessons in French humour

When publishers keep a children’s book in print for a certain number of years it is called a classic, by the publishers themselves, of course, then by teachers and librarians, and sometimes by men and women who knew the book when they were young. Nicholas, by every criterion, from every point of view, has attained

Chilblains in the Cotswold

One day in 1941 an officer on exercise in the Cotswolds looked down from the brow of a hill and saw a cluster of stone buildings in the valley below. On closer inspection these turned out to be a deserted farm, with a beautiful Elizabethan farmhouse and great cathedral-like barns. It was in a derelict