David C. Dawson has a new gay historical crime thriller out: A Death in Bloomsbury. And there’s a giveaway!
Everyone has secrets… but some are fatal.
1932, London. Late one December night Simon Sampson stumbles across the body of a woman in an alleyway. Her death is linked to a plot by right-wing extremists to assassinate the King on Christmas Day. Simon resolves to do his patriotic duty and unmask the traitors.
But Simon Sampson lives a double life. Not only is he a highly respected BBC radio announcer, but he’s also a man who loves men, and as such must live a secret life. His investigation risks revealing his other life and with that imprisonment under Britain’s draconian homophobic laws of the time. He faces a stark choice: his loyalty to the King or his freedom.
This is the first in a new series from award-winning author David C. Dawson. A richly atmospheric novel set in the shadowy world of 1930s London, where secrets are commonplace, and no one is quite who they seem.
About the Series
The Simon Sampson Mysteries start in London 1932 and continue through the 1930s across Europe. Set against the rise of fascism in the continent, the series features a man who does his patriotic duty to fight the enemy, even though as a gay man he’s an outlaw.
David is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:
Simon arrived at Piccadilly Circus at ten minutes to eight that evening and waited to cross the road to the statue of Eros on its traffic island. This part of London always gave Simon a thrill of excitement. It buzzed with activity, like a giant beehive. There were swarms of people hurrying from work, or strolling towards a restaurant, theatre or bar. The metaphor was apt, because within fifty yards of where Simon stood there were so many queens.
Across the road was The Trocadero. Its Long Bar was always guaranteed to provide a gay evening for gentlemen in search of pleasure. A little farther on was the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square. Its Upper Gallery was popular with painted boys and men dressed in smart suits who spent an evening either exchanging acid-tongued witticisms or seeking a friend for the night.
Even at that time of the evening the traffic on Piccadilly Circus was almost stationary. Simon stepped off the pavement and wove his way between taxis and omnibuses queuing to drive up Shaftesbury Avenue or down the Haymarket. Cameron was waiting for him, and Simon was pleased to see he was once again soberly dressed in his immaculate black coat. This time with a grey scarf and black leather gloves. Young men of a similar age to Cameron were also standing on the steps of Eros, and they wore far more flamboyant clothing. Simon preferred to be inconspicuous when out with a gentleman friend. There was less chance that they might draw the attention of the police, or busys as his friends in the Fitzroy Tavern would call them.
“I do hope you’ve not been waiting long.” Simon took Cameron’s outstretched hand and squeezed it firmly. “It’s getting awfully cold. I think it might snow this Christmas.”
Cameron reached out his other hand and rested it on Simon’s hip. Simon pushed it away. “Best not here, old chap,” he whispered. “Awfully public you know.”
He released Cameron’s hand and pointed across the road. “We need to head towards Leicester Square. The Lily Pond is two roads up. And we can walk past the Trocadero on the way and see who’s out gadding tonight.”
“I’m glad I’m wi’ ye,” Cameron replied. “I’m still finding ma bearin’s in London. I’ve nae come down to this part of town since I moved to York House.”
“Oh, you should.” Simon led the way through the still stationary traffic to Coventry Street. “It’s frightfully exciting. And you can always be sure of meeting someone interesting.” He pointed to the corner of Glasshouse Street. “That’s the Regent Palace Hotel. Awfully good bar. Perfect place to meet gentlemen from overseas, and they can hire a room for you by the hour if that interests you.” He grabbed Cameron’s arm and pulled him to safety as a motor car attempted to circumvent the traffic jam and drove up onto the pavement.
“Try not to get yourself killed, my dear.”
A Death in Bloomsbury – Two nations separated by the same language
“Two nations separated by the same language.” It’s a phrase attributed to the British writer George Bernard Shaw when describing the United States and Britain. Many others have said something similar, including Oscar Wilde and Noël Coward. It’s not surprising. There are so many hiccups for the unwary Englishman (like me) who writes books read primarily by Americans (according to the sales figures).
I have a newsletter and I asked my readers whether I should convert everything into American English: freeway instead of motorway, faucet instead of tap etc.
“No!” they cried, almost as one. “You’re writing British mysteries. The fact that your books contain colourful spelling oddities, like ‘colorful’, adds to their Britishness.”
So that should have been it. Case closed. But unfortunately it’s not as simple as that.
If I fill my books with words spelled differently in the two countries it’s going to get irritating for readers after a while. If someone wears a grey coat and it’s described multiple times then that becomes a distraction for American readers who would say it’s a gray coat.
I make it a brown coat. It’s not a threat to the plot and it doesn’t get in the way of reading enjoyment for those on either continent.
That works for a lot of words. It’s become a personal challenge to avoid using the words “colour” or “grey” or “flavour”. You could call it a labo(u)r of love. But there are some objects for which the British and the Americans have different names.
Let’s take the lift, for example. I mean, the elevator.
Fortunately, a lot of British people use the word elevator these days. So, I just slip it in there and hope the British sticklers for tradition don’t object.
Which they haven’t so far.
Of course, there are some words whose meaning becomes completely different when they cross the Atlantic.
“Fanny” is one of them. “Ass” is another. “Rubber” is yet another.
Again, it’s simpler if I just don’t use them. That is, not unless I’m looking for a bit of comic effect…
When it came to the language used in A Death in Bloomsbury I was faced with a whole new set of challenges. In 1930s London, if you said someone was gay you meant they were cheerful and bright. Only a few psychiatrists used the word “homosexual”. Even gay men didn’t refer to themselves as gay. They said that they were “other”. No one used the word lesbian. In fact, British society refused to acknowledge that a woman could love another woman. Those women who did referred to their “Sapphic love”.
I’ve explained all of this as you go in the novel. But not with footnotes. That would be horribly clunky.
I just sort of, slipped them in.
David C. Dawson is an award-winning author, journalist and documentary maker. He writes gay romance and contemporary thrillers featuring gay heroes in love.
His latest book The Foreign Affair was published in 2020. It’s the third in the Delingpole Mysteries series.
The first in the series: The Necessary Deaths, won an FAPA award in the best suspense/thriller category.
David’s also written two gay romances: For the Love of Luke and Heroes in Love.
He lives near Oxford, with his boyfriend and two cats. In his spare time, he tours Europe and sings with the London Gay Men’s Chorus.
Author Website: https://www.davidcdawson.co.uk
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