Updated: Mar 25, 2020
Cold War. London in a snowbound winter. There’s rumor of a spectacular Roman coliseum, unearthed on a site in the City and holding up construction. Whoever just sold the site to a kingpin racketeer, can consider himself a dead man.
Some evenings ago I walked the Commonwealth Avenue bridge across the lake to Canberra’s Albert Hall, to hear the Australian Baroque band Salut! Very fine they are too, singing and playing plenty that was new to me. But what on earth’s that got to do with a retro noir story of vice, the rackets, police corruption and cool murder in London?
Well, Salut! being a very talented band of early music specialists, over the years they’ve done their singing, playing and recording pretty much everywhere in the world you can think of. And so, the program tells me, their Venezuelan violinist Rafael Font has performed, among lots of other places, at London’s Barbican Centre. So? So today’s Barbican Centre is built exactly on the blitz site that sparks the story at the heart of SHAMUS DUST. In the early Cold War when Shamus DUST is set, today’s Barbican development was level rubble, bombed and burned along with a third of the City in a single night raid. St Paul’s cathedral is close by, saved by the fire crews while everything around it flamed. And that Roman coliseum? It’s also close by. Today you can go to see it in its own equally spectacular underground gallery.
Too late now but I should have asked Rafael Font if he went to visit.