Saturday, 26 September 2015

What's in a location, part three.

In this third look at Covent Garden I talk about James Street and Long Acre. First of all, take a look at the map of Kitty's Covent Garden.
James street isn't marked on this map, but it is the road leading from the Northern side of Covent Garden to the what is marked on the map as Hart Street, which is what Long Acre was called in the mid 18th century.

Here's James Street today. It's pedestrianised and usually swarming with tourists. This was a very rainy, cold day. At the top on the right hand corner is Covent Garden Tube Station. Halfway down this street, back in the 18th century, was the house in which the Reverend of St. Paul's Church, Covent Garden lived. I've tried to find a picture of James Street from the 18th century, and even the 19th century, but have failed miserably. There are pictures of St. Jame's Street, but this is a different street, further west.

This is a modern drawing of the houses on the west side of James Street. You can see the houses built in the 18th century are marked in the left hand section, and here they are below. The Body Shop and Fossil are both 18th century. The Cambridge Satchel Company is 19th century, but it looks to be based on an earlier building. In general 18th century windows were longer than those in the 19th century.

Moving into Long Acre, then Hart Street. This is it now, looking in both directions.

Okay, so the building in this photo was built in 1938. Here it is below at that time. It has changed since then. The windows aren't the same. Mostly, buildings like this end up being gutted and the facade kept, while the main body of the building remains.

The sad thing is that this monstrosity of 1930s architecture was built in place of these old houses, which were built in Long Acre in 1690. As you can see, the windows are shorter and wider than the following two centuries. Remember than after the Great Fire of London, in 1666, most of the city was rebuilt in brick, hence the somewhat 'modern' look to terraces built in the 17th century. Gone were the wooden-framed houses of the old city.

In The Finish Kitty goes to a surgeon, who performs an autopsy on one of the murder victims. She would have visited a house very like one of those pictured here.

I did find this wonderful old photo of an Inn in Floral Court, which is just off James Street and Long Acre.

I'm guessing it was taken around the 1930s. I'm not sure if it's still there, but I will go and look and report back.

The other photo worth showing you of Long Acre is this one below.

Now, I'm not sure whereabouts on Long Acre this was, but I've a feeling it occupied the site which the Covent Garden tube station now sits on, which would mean that the facing us is James Street, looking all the way down to Covent Garden. Then again it could be the corner opposite, in which case this looks up to Seven Dials. 

It's a very interesting area, albeit today it's all shops and tourists.  I love the cobblestones in this picture and the old shop window on the left. It's a real shame there's so little left of it.

Part one in this look at Covent Garden is here

Part two is here

The Finish tells the story of an 18th century Covent Garden prostitute who wakes to find a dead man in her bed, and is forced to uncover the murderer for fear she will swing from the gallows.

Friday, 25 September 2015

The Surety is on its way! Part two in the Venus Squared series

Part two in the Venus Squared series, The Surety, is on its way. I'm just putting the finishing touches to it. Read a bit of it below. You can read The Finish, which is part one here.

Chapter One

Once more accused

It began as the sun rose over our seraglio. On the previous evening, besides a stream of incorrigible lechers, I serviced a Member of Parliament with a penchant for being laid across my knee and beaten until his fundament was quite raw. Thus, I was exhausted, yet I breakfasted in my usual manner, at my table in the window of the parlour, with Lucius, my Blackamore servant, at my elbow. My fellow whores were still asleep and I had just taken delivery of a letter, when a glint of sunlight caught my eye and caused me to look out across Covent Garden. Four military men in close formation, the buttons on their livery reflecting the sun’s rays, marched towards the Great Piazza. They presented a very fine sight, but I dismissed them from my mind until I heard the tread of boots on our stairs. They made such a noise it could be none other than this militia. They burst into my parlour with all the might of an army charging their enemy.
“Mistress Ives?”
The man who spoke was their Officer. Though my parlour was a large room and could accommodate a great many people, these soldiers now occupied the better part of it. I sipped my coffee like a lady and feigned disinterest, while all the time wondering what on earth they wanted with me.
“Orders are to bring you with us.”
“Blackwall Yard, Ma’am.”
“You must convey my condolences to your commanding officer,” I said. “If he wishes for my company, he may come here in the afternoon. I do not make house calls.”
This was not entirely true. For the right price I would travel almost anywhere. The right price however, had not been discussed as yet.
“He was most insistent, Ma’am. We cannot leave without you.”
Oh, but this was so annoying. My morning disrupted. They were not even the King’s soldiers, but those of the… damn it, the East India Company. I was intrigued. These men were destined to lead Sepoy troops in the Far East, and yet they had been dispatched to capture a Covent Garden whore? Whatever next?
“Understand this,” I said. “It will not be a cheap excursion. Lucius?” I beckoned my servant forward.
“Begging your pardon Ma’am. We are to bring you and you alone,” said the officer.
How very irregular. I had grown used to Lucius’s ministrations when abroad in the city. That said, I wished to know more of the man who sent troops to procure my service. He must be very wealthy. The Lord only knew that we needed the money.
“Very well. Lucius, tell Mother Shadbolt I will be gone for the best part of the morning. Watch her closely. I do not want to hear of her dipping her fingers in the purse.”
Poor Mother Shadbolt. In her time, she had taken care of a great many doxies, but with the loss of her establishment on the corner of Russell Square, she had become more than a little disconsolate. We gave her a home with us only because, if we did not, then she would be a wretched, vagrant creature let loose on the streets. Besides, she still had her mind on the money and her blessed Bible. When tested, she would threaten all with that tome. No man would risk her wrath.
I thus accompanied the soldiers to a coach, which had pulled up on the cobbles beyond the portico. I must say, I was quite glad of the excursion. I had spent too long cooped up in my gilded cage - a pretty bird for a pretty master.
We turned into The Strand, and thence onward to the Tower and beyond. We passed along the Ratcliffe Highway, and took in Limehouse and Poplar both. Vessels of all sizes: fishing ships, slave ships, cargo ships, packets and sundry smaller vessels, their masts thrusting upwards into the brightening sky, were much in evidence along the Thames’ bank. Hereabouts, men of all castes and creeds pursued commerce. Cargoes were off-laden; carts rolled the muddy streets; men hauled and heaved, and the sounds and smells were overpowering even for one such as I, used to the noise and aromas of Covent Garden. Fine houses soon gave way to old timber-built properties and low dives, punctuated by inns and taverns. I spied the usual ragged trade: dirty morts with no more than the clothes on their back and a dark hole in which to do the deed. I shuddered. Thank goodness for my saviour, the dark-eyed devil, William Westman. But for him, I too, would be on the street like these sad does.
Eventually, we came to a flat place of marshy fields. The sky was bird-shell blue and the wind gusted warm. Our road cut south for a short distance, through this watery land, past rope and sail-makers, mast-makers and smiths, until we reached the Blackwall Yard (no yard at all but both dry and wet docks, and many sheds where I suppose, honest men labour in the fine craft of ship-building). We drew up alongside one of the sheds, and the officer showed me from the carriage. My feet sank immediately into the soft earth. Why had I allowed myself to be brought here? What foolishness was I engaged upon now?
The officer bid me follow him down a narrow alleyway. This I did, mindful of the mud, which squelched underfoot and threatened to fix me in my tracks. The alley opened onto a yard. On the far side was a low built shed, open on one side and with a sawpit cut into the ground. A rough-hewn man stood at one end of the pit. He looked up as I approached. The briefest of smiles crossed Jim Craddock’s face before he indicated to me to come closer. I picked up my skirts and teetered on the boards lain either side of the sawpit. I looked down. It was empty save for a puddle of water.
“Why am I looking at a hole in the ground?”
I was not best enamoured with my husband, the infamous Bow Street Runner, Jim Craddock. As one of the Sir John Fielding’s foremost detectives, he was party to all kinds of intelligence, and could travel the length and breadth of the country, if needs be, to apprehend suspects. It is not for this reason though, that we had not spoken for nigh on six months. No, it was because of the death of my dear friend Daisy. He thought I blamed him. He was wrong. Even before this though, we did not live together. It was a marriage of convenience, no more.
“I thought you’d want to see where we found him,” he said.
“Come with me. I’ll show you.”
Craddock led the way back across the yard, pushed a door open, and stood aside to admit me. Inside, the atmosphere was redolent with the aroma of wood - sweet, like old wine. Three finely dressed gentlemen, albeit with muddy feet stood around a workbench, while a fourth hung back in the shadows, his features indistinct. Craddock pushed me forward. The men parted to admit my company. A newly dead corpse lay before us. One side of his face was but a bloody mess of flesh and bone. The other was still intact, but was as white as the shroud they would surely soon wrap him in. For a moment I did not know whether I should recoil from the horror or not.
“He’s dead?” I said.
“State the bloody obvious woman. Yes, he’s dead. He was in the pit.”
Craddock placed a hand on the back of my head and forced me to look.
“What were you doing last night?” he said.
“What do I always do?” I hissed. I pushed him away. “You bring me here to show me a corpse? Why? You could have told me when next you snatched your conjugal rights.”
He had not done that in a long time.
“Mistress Ives,” said one of the attending gentlemen. “Are we to understand you can identify this person?”

Monday, 14 September 2015

What happened when the old Covent Garden theatre burned down?

In 1808 the old Covent Garden Theatre burned to the ground. Although this is slightly outside the time period of the Venus Squared series of novels, I was so taken by this description of that event I’ve posted it here, in its entirety. In 1810 a new theatre was opened on the site of the old one. The 'new' theatre also suffered at the hands of a fire, burning down 1856. If you want to know what happened to it, well, it's where the Opera House is today.
The Covent Garden Journal by John Joseph Stockdale, Report dated April 28th 1810 – for George, the Earl of Dartmouth

THIS noble building, which was built in the year 1733, and enlarged, with considerable alterations, in 1792, was, on the morning of the 20th September, 1808, reduced, by a most tremendous conflagration, to a heap of shapeless ruins. The performance of the preceding night was Pizarro, a spectacle wherein all the creative powers of the machinists and decorators had been exhausted at both the theatres. It is supposed, that the melancholy catastrophe occurred in consequence of the wadding from a gun (fired in course of the performance) having lodged in some part of the scenery, which the prying eye of the strictest investigator, could not possibly have provided for. The portrait of Cervantes was the afterpiece, and both performances were received with eclat by a crowded and elegant audience. 

 Inside the old theatre - circa 1804

During the representation, which was over by eleven o'clock, nothing transpired indicative, in the least degree, of the mournful sequel. About twelve, Mr. Brandon paid his usual visit of circumspection to all parts of the house, and, conceiving that everything was perfectly secure, retired shortly after to rest. The same unsuspected tranquillity prevailed at two o'clock in the morning, at which time the watchman sedulously "paid his sober round" and discovered nought whereon to ground alarm. About four, however, a poor frail sister of the Cyprian band perceived the flames bursting forth with concentrated impetuosity, and communicating her terrific tale to the guardian of the night, the latter instantly called up Mr. Brandon.

Now a dense volume of smoke, and, shortly after, wreathed columns of flame, were seen to issue from the ventilator, on the topmost part of the roof. Within the space of ten minutes, this portion of the building was, distinctly, observed on fire in different parts; and, in half an hour, the whole edifice presented to the view a fiery furnace, from which the flaming pillars rose, forming, in the most awful style of destructive elemental architecture, a truly worthy temple of the sun. Though it was then broad day, so intense and furious was the conflagration, that it was perceivable in many of the most distant environs of the metropolis. The alarm became universal. The engines of every fire-office in town, and of all the adjacent parishes, rattling through the streets, with busy din, awakened the inhabitants to the view of this scene, which rivalled, in ruddy splendour, the glory of the opening day.

Thousands presented themselves before the theatre, eager to manifest their zeal in arresting the baleful progress of the raging element. In vain; — for, the houses, which so deeply surrounded the building on every side, prevented the ardour of exertion from being attended with success. The roof fell in about six o'clock ; and, so unexampled was the progress of the consuming invader, that, before eight, the whole interior of this splendid building, audience-part, stage, different entrances, treasury, music-room, &c. were totally annihilated.

 The Remains of the Old Covent Garden Theatre after the fire 1808

Perhaps there is no recorded instance of so complete a destruction, of similar extent, in so short a space of time. Every composite material of the building was, however, fuel to the fire, and the large area served to ventilate it to that unsubdued pitch at which it had arrived. All hopes of rendering service in this quarter be coming now unavailing, the firemen directed their efforts to prevent the increase of the calamity, as the houses which squared about the theatre were manifestly endangered. Owing to their height, it was found impracticable for the engines to play over them; but, the leather pipes being conveyed up the stair-cases to the third floors, and their ends being thrown down and fastened to the engines below, an ingenious facility of effective action was contrived. Nothing, however, could prevent the communication of the flames with the houses in Bow-Street, to which side the "Malus Auster" had an unfriendly inclination. Several of them were connected with the theatre, by a respective appropriation to different parts of the establishment. They, with some others, became victims to the manes of the mother-edifice.

The fire raged with more violence at the eastern side of the upper part of Bow-Street, where the house, No. 9, belonging to Mr. Paget; Nos. 10 and 11, attached to the theatre; No. 12, belonging to Mr. Hill; No. 13, the Strugglers Coffee - House, wherein Mr. Donne lost almost his whole property ; No. 14, belonging to Mr. Johnson, the fruiterer; and No. 15, the house of Mr. M'Kinlay, a book-binder ; were all completely destroyed, and scarcely " left a wreck behind." The three latter houses, with the exception of Mr. Donne's part of the property, were insured in the Hope, for, £2650. Some of the others were entirely uninsured, and some only partially so. Nos. 16 and 17, in the same street, were seriously damaged. In Hart-Street, four houses opposite to the theatre attracted this firey magnet at the same instant, and were only, by the greatest activity on the part of the firemen, secured from farther damage than a severe scorching.

The " proximus ardet Ucalegon," and the " tua res agitur," were promptly attended to with respect to Drury-Lane Theatre, which, it was apprehended, from the number of flakes carried thither by the wind, would share in the sacrifice to the god of fire, and receive the Salmonean punishment for a priority, in imitative effects, to outshine the enraged deity. A great number of people had mounted the roof of the Theatre of Drury-lane, in order to open the large cistern of water there in case of necessity. The windows of that building were also stopped with wet cloths, to prevent the entrance of the flames, — a precaution by no means unnecessary. All the people in the immediate vicinage kept their servants employed on their respective roofs to pick up the flakes of fire as they dropped on them.

This has been the whole extent of injury sustained in the neighbourhood; but as to the theatre itself, it wa6 totally consumed; and even the walls on the Hart-street side were not left standing. In that angle of the edifice, the Ship- tavern and part of Mr. Brandon's, the box-keeper's, office, are the only remains. The amount of the insurances did not exceed 60,000/. and the savings from the Shakespeare premises amounted to about 3500/. the entire being but one-fourth of the sum necessary to replace the great loss sustained. In addition to the usual scenic stock was a great quantity of beautiful new scenery for a melodrama which was to be shortly forthcoming.

Of the original pieces of music of Handel, Arne, and many other celebrated composers, no copies had been taken; and of many others, which had also been destroyed, only an outline had been given. Several capital dramatic productions, the property of the theatre, were for ever lost. The organ, left by Handel as a bequest to the theatre, which was valued at 1000 guineas, and never played but during the Oratorios, was likewise consumed. Mr. Ware, the leader of the band, lost a violin worth 300/. which for the first time in ten years he had left behind him. Mr. Munden's wardrobe, which cannot be replaced under 300/. shared the general fate; as did Miss Bolton's jewels, and other performers' property, in the aggregate amounting to a very considerable sum. 

We now come to the most painful part of the narration, — the dreadful havoc committed on human life by the falling of the burning roof. At an early stage of the fire, the great door under the piazza in Covent-garden was broken open by a party of firemen, and an engine belonging to the Phoenix fire-office, being introduced within the passage, was directed towards the galleries where the flames raged most fiercely : horrid to relate, the burning roof of that same passage, in which they were, fell in with a tremendous crash, burying the unhappy and too daring firemen, with others who had rushed in along with them, under its ruins. A considerable time elapsed before the rubbish, which now obstructed the doors of this fatal pas sage, could be removed. When effected, a scene of horror was presented to the view. The mangled bodies of dead and dying appeared through the rubbish, or were discovered in each advance to remove it. At twelve o'clock that day, eleven dead bodies had been carried into the church-yard of St. Paul's, Covent-garden. Some miserably mangled creatures, with broken limbs and dreadful bruises, were conveyed to St. Bartholomew's, and some to the Middlesex, hospital. It would shock humanity to draw a faithful picture of the situation of those wretched persons who were dug out of the ruins alive; they were, in general, so much burned as scarcely to be re cognized by their nearest relatives; and in many instances their flesh was literally peeled from the bones. The dead bodies taken from the same place were nearly shapeless trunks. The strictest examination, for the purposes of identity, was vain, in those who came to claim the "sine nomine corpus." The coroners for London, Middlesex, and Surrey, sat on 19 bodies destroyed at the fire; viz. 12 at Covent-garden, 3 at St. Bartholomew's, 2 at the Middlesex- hospital, and 2 at St. Thomas's.

Many persons were conveyed, in the most hope less situation, to their own houses. The waste of human life, on this lamentable occasion, falls not short of thirty persons. From the evidence of William Addicote, one of the stage-carpenters of the theatre, and William Darley, one of the firemen belonging to the Eagle Insurance-Office, and one of the jury, an eye-witness of the falling in of that ceiling by which the unfortunate men were burnt to death, — it appeared that the firemen and others who perished had been employed in endeavouring to extinguish the flames at the room called the Apollo, which had fallen in upon them. The surmises with respect to barrels of gun-powder having exploded were proved to be unfounded, no more of that article being ever kept in the house than was sufficient for the consumption of a single night.

On the next day, another Victim was added to the list, by the fall of the wall in Hart-street; several others were bruised severely, though they had all been warned of their danger to no purpose. The names of the deceased sufferers, as well as could be collected, are: — Mr. T. Harris, jun. Mr. R. Davis Musket William Ricklesworth George Kilby John Seyers James Stewart Samuel Stevens Richard Cadger T. Holmes James Hunt William Jones James Evans J. Crabb T. Mead T. James Richard Rushton Mr. Hewitt J. Beaumont Richard Bird James Philkins John Oakley Optician,of Hydcstreet,Blooms- bury, Serjeant of the Bloomsbury Volunteers. A Gentleman lately from Wales to London on a visit. Firemen belonging to Phoenix-Office.

 Begging after the fire

Another person, a private in the guards, was taken to the Military Hospital, where he died in three or four hours. These were the names as nearly as could be gathered. Several were still missing. Mr. Richards, clerk to Messrs. Shaw and Edwards, St. Paul's Church-yard, was so dreadfully scalded by the water falling from the burning materials, that he died about 12 o'clock the same day. The firemen and others were employed for some days in pulling down the tottering ruins which threatened destruction to the passengers in Bow-street. On the following Saturday two more bodies were dug out of the ruins. The books of accounts, deeds, and the receipt of the preceding night, were fortunately preserved by the exertion of Mr. Hughes, the treasurer. Though a considerable number of engines were in constant and prompt attendance, yet, owing to the main pipe having been cut off with the intend of laying down a new one, more than an hour elapsed before some of them could be supplied. During this defect in the supply of water, the neighbours derived the most essential assistance from the pump of the Bedford Coffee-house and Hotel. The utmost effect was perceived from the playing of the engines for about an hour, when all hope was lost by the crash which announced the falling-in of the roof, and the consequent destruction of the elegant interior.

The Bedford and Piazza Coffee-houses owed their preservation to a wall, some time since erected for the purpose of insulating the theatre from the back of these premises. Among the other losses sustained, the Beef-Steak Club, which held their meetings at the top of the theatre, and has existed for many years, lost all their stock of old wines, valued at 1500/. beside their sideboard, and other implements. Pieces of scenery and other decorations were carried through the air to immense distances. A fragment of carved wood, all on fire, fell near St. Clement's church, in the Strand. The figure of Apollo, on the dome of Drury-lane Theatre, was a strikingly-illuminated object, as the fiery shower fell around it. Great praise is due to the volunteer corps and the detachments of horse and foot guards who attended. Several miscreants, taking advantage of the confusion, attempted to plunder, but were held in custody. The whole property destroyed amounted to considerably more thau 100,000/. and, at the utmost, was covered by insurance to the amount of 75,000/. The dark prospect of the proprietors may yet be cheered by light, but "when shall it shine on the night of the grave?" A subscription was opened for the relief of the sufferers. The King's Theatre was very liberally offered to Mr. Harris by Mr. Taylor; and the Covent- garden Harris by Mr. Taylor; and the Covent- garden Company played there till the commencement of the Opera-season. The plan of a new theatre on the site of the old one, to be completely insulated, was ordered and accepted by the proprietors.

 The new theatre built after the fire, pictured in about 1828. This too burned down.

Angela Elliott's book The Finish, being the first in a four part series about Covent Garden prostitute Kitty Ives can be found here.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

When a character has a past - Kitty's (and my) family background

Lovers of the 18th century will be very familar with this Hogarth, called The Orgy. The original hangs in Sir John Soanes Museum in London. It's part of The Rake's Progress, a series of paintings that show the progress of Tom Rakewell from young man about town to his eventual degredation in Bedlam. This particular picture shows the Rose Tavern, Covent Garden, so it is only right that I reference it here. After all, our whore, Kitty, would have been very familar with it.

But she didn't always frequent such low dives and keep such rakish company. Once upon a time she lived in Norfolk with her parents and sisters. Her father's death brings her to London to take up a position in a household, but she is waylaid by Mother Shadbolt and promised lavish clothes and a lifestyle to match. Kitty is young and foolish and so she goes with Mother Shadbolt, only to find herself financially indebted to the old bawd and unable to leave.

Hogarth, very kindly, illustrated this scene too, in his series, A Harlot's Progress.

All this makes for a great back story for our Kitty Ives, but, is she really just a character? Or is there some basis in reality?

When I began to flesh out the idea for The Finish I needed a name for my main character and decided there and then I would raid my family tree. I've been an avid family genealogist since I was eleven. My grandfather, a man called George Leslie Mumby, told me about his grandfather, whose name was John Ives Mumby. John Ives Mumby had been married to a woman called Sophia Carden. At first, I thought I would call my main character Sophia, but I'd just written another story, The Remaining Voice (which is now undergoing something of a rewrite) and I didn't want to confuse the issue by using the same name twice. My cat is called Kitty Lala (she is something of a tart) - and one of the most famous prostitutes of the 18th century was also called Kitty - Kitty Fisher. It seemed appropriate then, that I named my whore Kitty Ives.

But there's more to it than just using family names. My grandfather, who was born in 1902 and has been dead for some years now, told me that his grandfather, John Ives Mumby was so named because he had lived in St. Ives in Huntingdonshire. For a long time, I had no evidence to the contrary, until I started to investigate through the records. When I did, I found that John Ives Mumby was born in 1815 in Newark upon Trent, Nottinghamshire, to another John Ives Mumby. The aforementioned Sophia Carden was born in 1832, so there was quite a gap in their ages. In fact, Sophia survived until the 20th century, whereas her husband died in his mid 60s, leaving her a widow with seven children.

Anyway, that there were two John Ives Mumbys intrigued me. Plus, Newark upon Trent isn't anywhere near St. Ives in Huntingdonshire. Upon further investigation I found that the first John Ives Mumby's father was a Joseph Mumby, born in 1757 in Lincolnshire. In 1781 Joseph married a woman called Anne White. At this point the trail went cold. I couldn't find a record of Joseph's birth. Instead, I looked at Anne White's parents, thinking this might take me back further. They were Samuel White and Mary Ives. Ahah! The Ives name. Far from being named after a place, the first John to be given Ives as a middle name was the grandson of Mary Ives. She, it turns out was quite a character.

Samuel, her husband died fairly young, and Mary only had one child. At a time when women could only come into money if they were widowed and had no sons, Mary was in a unique position. I found her will in the Nottingham University archives. She was a fairly well to do woman. She never remarried and so she kept all the money. She made her grandson, the first John Ives Mumby, executor to her will. He ran his own business in Nottingham as a fabric dyer. She left money to her daughter Anne (John's mother) with the stipulation that Joseph (John's father) should never get his hands on it. Joseph had been a grocer Horncastle, Lincolnshire, but in later years was an Innkeeper in Wisbech, which is rather close to...

Wait for it.

Joseph retired. Yes, he retired at a time when no one retired because no one had a pension and no one could afford to retire.  That means he had amassed enough to keep himself and his wife without working. Where did he retire to? Why St. Ives of course, where else?

My grandfather was incorrect about his grandfather being named after St. Ives, but he must have heard something about St. Ives and it stuck with him.

When my father read a little of The Finish, he said, 'oh, her name's Kitty Ives. We had Ives in our family'. He said it as if I hadn't written the book; as if someone else had done it. My Dad is 90 so, it's to be forgiven if he can't quite get his head around the concept of his daughter as a writer.

You can read all about Kitty's exploits in The Finish and in the subsequent volumes, The Surety, The Debt and The Trade. Collectively, they are called Venus Squared.

the progress of a murder uncovered