Life in Rio’s most infamous favela — where you have to pay the cops to arrest criminals

19 September 2015 8:00 am

When Stefan Zweig first arrived in Rio de Janeiro in 1936, he was overwhelmed not only by the city’s magnificent…

Nero and Agrippina by Antonio Rizzi

Rid of their enemies, the Caesars set about murdering family and friends

12 September 2015 9:00 am

According to Francis Bacon, the House of York was ‘a race often dipped in its own blood’. That being so,…

A shopping centre is engulfed in flames during the Los Angeles riots, 1992 (Photo: Getty)

The gangs of LA are caught in an unending bloody vendetta

1 August 2015 9:00 am

Ryan Gattis’s novel All Involved is set in South Central Los Angeles in 1992, during the riots that began after…

Mexican soldiers stand amidst poppy flowers and marijuana plants (Photo: Getty)

The war on drugs is stupid and counter-productive

18 July 2015 9:00 am

Rosalio Reta was 13 years old when recruited by a Mexican drug cartel. He was given a loyalty test —…

Kamal Daoud (Photo: Getty)

The Outsider — from the viewpoint of the victim’s family

11 July 2015 9:00 am

In 1975 the Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, in a lecture at the University of Massachusetts, identified Joseph Conrad’s Heart of…

Tippi Hedren helps save schoolchildren in The Birds. Hitchcock confided to François Truffaut that he’d had ‘some emotional problems’ with Hedren during the shoot. For the final scene, live birds were attached to Hedren’s clothes. The actress became increasingly hysterical over the course of the week it took to film it, and when a bird finally went for her eyes, she collapsed

A profile of the worlds’s most famous film director — with the most famous profile

18 April 2015 9:00 am

‘Do it with scissors’ was Alfred Hitchcock’s advice for prospective murderers, though a glance at these two biographies reminds us…

Shots Fired At Santa Monica College

Black-on-black murder was ignored by the LAPD as ‘no human involved’ — until one of their number decided to get involved

21 March 2015 9:00 am

Los Angeles ghetto life — thrashed, twisted and black — is not a world that most Americans care to visit.…


Murder, mystery and sexual obsession

14 February 2015 9:00 am

Few first novels are as successful as S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep, which married a startling and unusual…

Antonello da Messina’s ‘Condottiere’: the compelling face of a supremely confident man

Which great French novelist was also a crossword-setter?

15 November 2014 9:00 am

One could have endless fun setting quiz questions about Georges Perec. Which French novelist had a scientific paper, ‘Experimental demonstration…

Author Michael Connelly arrives at the premiere of 'The Lincoln Lawyer'

The man who was mistaken for a deer

25 October 2014 9:00 am

‘And anything by Michael Connelly’ were the final words of advice from one of my best friends in discussing books…

J.K. Rowling Photo: Getty

J.K. Rowling is just too nice – and too lucky – to satirise publishing

28 June 2014 9:00 am

J.K. Rowling’s second novel under the Robert Galbraith moniker is a whodunit set in the publishing industry. This isn’t a…


Sex and squalor in San Francisco

5 April 2014 9:00 am

Frog Music begins with a crime against a young mother, committed in a tiny space. Unlike Emma Donoghue’s bestselling novel…


The Shock of the Fall is a worthy Costa Book of the Year

15 February 2014 9:00 am

About 30 pages in and unable to find my bearings, I flipped to the end of this novel — well,…

Sting, William Burroughs and Andy Summers Photo: Getty

William S. Burroughs was a writer – not a painter, prophet, philosopher

8 February 2014 9:00 am

William S. Burroughs lived his life in the grand transgressive tradition of Lord Byron and Oscar Wilde and, like all…

The Florentine banking aristocracy worship the Christ-child in Botticelli’s ‘Adoration of the Magi’. 
On either side the scene is stacked with Medici sons, grandsons and associates

How to avoid bankers in your nativity scene

19 October 2013 9:00 am

With an eye to the blasphemy underlying some of the loveliest Renaissance painting, Honor Clerk will be choosing her Christmas cards more carefully this year

The Breath of Night, by Michael Arditti

27 July 2013 9:00 am

There is always meat in Michael Arditti’s novels. He is a writer who presents moral problems via fiction but is…

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

12 November 2011 11:00 am

The novels of Jane Austen have much in common with traditional detective fiction. It is an affinity that P. D.…


Theatre of the macabre

8 January 2011 12:00 am

Sam Leith marvels at Victorian Britain’s appetite for crime, where a public hanging was considered a family day out and murder became a lurid industry in itself