One weekend I was in Scandinavia, the next it was Italy. And in neither case did I leave a rainy, storm-blown London. I wasn’t an organiser, but I was (for what it was worth) the official host of Nordicana, the annual festival of all things Nordic (but principally TV and books) – and precisely five days later, more foreign fiction was on the agenda: a mouth-watering meal built around Andrea Camilleri’s Montalbano novels in the fashionable Soho restaurant Bocca di Lupo. The chain-smoking 90-year-old author was not in attendance (he doesn’t travel, apparently), but his UK publisher, Mantle’s forthright Maria Rejt, was pinch-hitting along with the novelist Paul Bailey, both of whom had visited the great man in Italy and had a fund of lively stories.

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