Bologna: city of secrets, suspicion . . . and murder
A dark and atmospheric crime thriller set in the beautiful Italian city of Bologna, perfect for fans of Donna Leon, Michael Dibdin and Philip Gwynne Jones.
When the body of a radical protestor is found floating in one of Bologna’s underground canals, it seems that most of the city is ready to blame the usual suspects: the police.
But when private investigator Daniel Leicester, son-in-law to a former chief of police, receives a call from the dead man’s lover, he follows a trail that begins in the 1970s and leads all the way to the rotten heart of the present-day political establishment.
Beneath the beauty of the city, Bologna has a dark underside, and English detective Daniel must unravel a web of secrets, deceit and corruption – before he is caught in it himself.
Tom Benjamin’s gripping debut transports you to the ancient and mysterious Italian city less travelled: Bologna.
- When and where do you prefer to write?
Always the morning. After lunch until around four pm I don’t have the energy, then I can often get another four hours in, although often more editing than ‘writing’. I need my own space, and it is usually my (home) office, but with Covid I was turfed out and spent a while shifting around the house until I bought an Ikea desk and relocated to the loft, which, fortunately, has a view! I do occasionally crave a bit of company, however, especially on the first draft, so I might go to a café, but cut off the rest of the world with headphones.
- Do you have a certain ritual?
Not really. I don’t like to get trapped in rituals or superstitions, but I do tend to drink a lot of tea.
- Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
See above. And coffee. Rarely biscuits, as I try to keep my weight down during the working week (which is mainly when I write). Never alcohol – one drink and it’s over.
- What is your favourite book?
There are too many favourites. By genre – crime, American Tabloid by James Ellroy, The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler, The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad, GB 84 by David Peace. Popular Fiction – One Day by David Nicholls, the Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser. Literature – Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter, The Human Stain by Phillip Roth, The Farewell Symphony by Edmund White, A Very Human Heart by William Boyd. Sci-Fi – Consider Phlebas by Iain M Banks, Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban. 19th Century Literature – Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray. I could go on and on!
- Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
Always, but Daniel Leicester and Bologna continue to fascinate.
- Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
Rarely, but that doesn’t mean I am not inspired by people I may have come across.
- Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
Not these days – I use my phone.
- Which genre do you not like at all?
I like any well-written story, although science-heavy sci-fi for example has the same effect as heavy metal music on my brain.
- If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
I’ve tried to co-write in the past but it hasn’t worked out. I guess I am an only-child through and through.
- If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
My novels are set in Bologna where I live, so my description of the setting is drawn from more than a dozen years of experience, plus a fair amount of specific research. However, it would not so much be a question of choosing a country as the story choosing one for me. For example: in my spare time I am dabbling with a story with a number of international settings, all of which I have visited, except for the climax – in Kansas. I would like to go there to get a ‘feel’ but it is not otherwise somewhere I would choose to visit! Otherwise, as an Italian resident and newly-minted Italian citizen, you could say the UK would be an alternative foreign setting for me these days – certainly all the other non-Daniel Leicester novels I have in mind are all set there.
Thank you, Tom Benjamin and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Tom Benjamin started off as a reporter before moving to the press office at Scotland Yard and running drugs awareness campaign FRANK. He moved to Bologna where his work as doorman at a homeless canteen inspired him to create English detective Daniel Leicester in a series that serves up equal helpings of the local cuisine and ubiquitous graffiti; the city’s splendour, decay, and danger.