The clocks have just changed—they’ve gone forward an hour. I’m never really sure about this, it just seems to mess with my routines. And it’s not as if the change gives us a longer day—we’ve still only got 24 hours to play with, and the length of daylight is determined by the time between sunrise and sunset.
Or maybe I’m getting too old and grumpy.
But one thing that doesn’t make me grumpy is books…
Which Book to Read First?
One question people often ask of me is: which book (of mine) should they read first? My answer is always the same: Clementina.
From the Back Cover of Clementina
Leathan Wilkey has been hired to babysit Clementina, a seventeen-year-old whose rich daddy is going through a messy divorce and is over-compensating.
Leathan soon tires of her spending habits, her selfie obsession, and her social media preoccupation as his ward drags him from shop to boutique to jeweler, approaching each with the self-possession that comes from a lifetime of getting her own way and never once having to worry about money.
But when Clementina snaps her fingers and her boyfriend doesn’t come running, something is up. He doesn’t appear because he’s been murdered.
When Leathan investigates, he finds that the boyfriend has no background and met Clementina through a connection made by daddy’s business partner.
Daddy’s business partner who has been slowly and progressively putting daddy in a vice, grabbing more of the business, and who is now menacing Clementina directly to manipulate daddy.
So why start with Clementina?
For me, Clementina brings many elements of a good story together in one book:
- There are strong characters and, in particular, I love Clementina as a character.
- There are stakes that matter.
- There’s an interesting location.
It’s also the book where I really got into my stride with the writing, it felt easier to write and I was more satisfied with the end result.
But there are also some very practical reasons to start with Clementina:
- It’s the first book, chronologically, in the Leathan Wilkey/Paris series. And if you want to know more about the story chronology when compared with the order of writing, read this post.
- It sets up the Leathan Wilkey/Paris series.
- It’s a good introduction to the series—Leathan Wilkey is very Leathan-ish.
Of course, I love the Boniface series too—and you should read that—but for today, read Clementina if you haven’t already done so.
Currency and Value
When I started writing the Leathan Wilkey series, beyond telling the stories, I was interested to look at two aspects of modern life:
- First, I wanted to think about how an individual survives without many comparatively modern items that we now take for granted such as a phone, credit cards, and a permanent place to live.
- Secondly, I wanted talk about how we ascribe value in our day-to-day lives.
Leathan is living off the grid—it’s his way of saying alive. He left London in a hurry when he upset a people smuggling gang and rather than go somewhere secluded and be an obvious outsider, he sought the anonymity of a big city (Paris).
To maintain his anonymity, Leathan needs to live without anything that would make him traceable. This means he spends each night in a different bed and each morning begins with him putting a new SIM card in his phone which is then discarded at the end of the day.
Since a bank account and credit cards are impractical—both would make him traceable—Leathan exists in a world where he trades favors. Any work he can scratch up then has its price negotiated in non-cash terms.
And once you start to think in non-cash, non-currency terms, then the notion of value really becomes tricky. Follow this link to find more about how Leathan considers value.
There’s a new Netflix documentary: The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The title tells you what you’re going to get.
There’s nothing new, nor particularly interesting, but if you’re thinking about whether to watch here are my thoughts.
And to Close
For those who enjoyed last month’s photos (such as the Old Church at Albury) there will be more to come over the next few months, including many of the locations Leathan visits in Paris.
Until then, get reading Clementina 😄
All the best