You might be wondering why my noir crime thriller is set in the City of London and why in the immediate aftermath of WWII. Well, I always did find that financial square mile, the City of London, exhilarating, but in 1988 something rather special happened there. Stop for a second and imagine you've got an absolute fortune riding on commercial real estate development, somewhere near to Wall Street. The ground is cleared, foundations are being dug out, and one day you get a call. It says everything is on hold, because excavations on the site have uncovered the first Viking settlement on Manhattan island! No kidding, something like that happens fairly regularly in the City, notably since reconstruction began after the blitz of World War 2. Today it can happen whenever a new subway is cut, or the latest, tallest skyscraper needs deeper foundations. In the Square Mile, the layers go right down to the original Roman settlement of London, and in 1988, a routine excavation for Guildhall's new art gallery hit the jackpot. What the archaeologists found were signs of an amphitheater - think of the Colosseum in Rome itself - in the shape of an oval the size of a football field! Amazing. And it took another twenty years to preserve the remains in a spectacular gallery of their own. But it turns out those remains had first been recorded almost forty years before, when postwar reconstruction was first getting underway. The significance of what the archaeologists found, it was said, just hadn't been spotted at the time. It set me thinking about the immense sums that were at risk - and the huge temptation to a cover-up - if the significance of the find had been appreciated. In recent years in Athens, for example, some ancient Greek remains were simply trucked out of a construction site (it's assumed) and dumped overnight in a dry riverbed. Where the original site might have been, no-one could tell. Shamus Dust tells the story of another kind of cover-up at the outset of the Cold War. But in the most valuable square mile on the planet, the need is more urgent, the stakes are deadly, and the solution is nastier by far.
It’s Christmastime 1947, in the City of London’s square mile of high finance. A seeming vice killing spooks a City councilor into hiring Newman, an expatriate American shamus, to keep his name out of a murder. Newman’s private inquiries split two different ways. One takes him to the rackets, to a police murder investigation, and to the City’s own grandees. The second takes him into the ruins left behind by the blitz, to make sense of what he’s finding out about his own client.
Caroline King, Contrary Life
Shamus Dust is a noir homage. It's an evocative, haunting debut
CHRISTOPHER FOWLER. AWARD WINNING AUTHOR OF PENGUIN SERIES BRYANT & MAY