June 2023 Newsletter

Greetings from London! I hope that you’re well and have been reading some good books lately.


It’s nice to be enjoying some warm weather (I love the heat) – sadly I missed out on the first ten days, as I made a driving tour around Ireland, where the weather was not so good. But not so bad either (actually the first time I have been to Ireland and it hasn’t rained… much), and the countryside and people more than compensated for the clouds, as they always do.

Peace Wall Belfast viewed from Republican side

There was just one real disappointment, which was seeing that continuing divisions between Loyalist/Protestant and Republican/Catholic areas of Belfast and Derry. I last went to Belfast in 1988 – I was working, doing an energy audit of the Royal Mail building (still there, looks the same) – at the height of the ‘Troubles’. There are no more troops on the streets, and central Belfast appears thriving, but take a walking tour as I did into the residential areas and the divisions – and the 8 metre high wall – are as visible as ever. Since getting back I’ve watched some episodes of a BBC documentary series, ‘Once Upon a Time in Ireland’, which has reminded me of all the past conflict I’ve since forgotten. So interesting to watch now that I have just returned, but rather depressing. I hope for common sense and peace to prevail.

People and sheep - the fishing community in Saint-Louis

On a happier note, you can now see my holiday snaps at https://oliverdowson.com/ireland

And if you haven’t yet looked at the post of my trip to Senegal in May, that’s at https://oliverdowson.com/senegal


For the next few months I’m staying in my homes in London and Asturias, Spain, hoping the good summer weather continues. I’m really enjoying writing Spies on Safari, the sequel to The Repurposed Spy, and should have that finished in the next few weeks. I’m also working on a short prequel novella that will ink in some of the early history of my antihero spy, Ronald Jones, and I’ll send you a free ebook copy as soon as I’m happy with it.



·         by John le Carré – his last novel, published posthumously by his son. Proof that Le Carré continued to be a brilliant author right up to the end; an amazing book and a thoroughly enjoyable read.

The Plea

·         by Steve Cavanagh – not sure how I missed this, as I have read the others in the series. Steve must be the best American courtroom legal thriller writer – the plots are utterly ludicrous, but the stories are so enjoyable and the books so well written that I happily forgive that (but then, I’m a sucker for big stage musicals, every one of which has even more ludicrous plots!).

No Time to Cry

·         by James Oswald – I’ve enjoyed his Inspector Maclean novels, but I’m not convinced by this, the first of a new series. There are a few link backs (Madame Rose) but fortunately he’s ditched the supernatural stuff. Unfortunately, I couldn’t relate to his new hero, Connie Fairchild.

Until Death

·         by Alex Khan – I like books that follow the principle of “this is extremely unlikely but nevertheless plausible” but I found this completely implausible and the juxtaposition of two women detectives, one a totally lapsed free agent and the other a white English partial convert, insufficiently explained to the point of irritation. Well-written, and engaging to the end, though.


My latest book has been selling well – so, if you bought it, thank you very much. It’s garnered some excellent reviews, which are very encouraging. I’m enthusiastic to get more reviews (even not so good but constructive ones), so if you read it and can spare a few minutes to post one, I’d be grateful.

Like everything else, book prices are going up (at least the cost of printing and distribution) so if you haven’t yet bought your copy and want the paperback, now is the time, as the price will rise in July!

A couple of interesting reviews complained that because of the way the book ends, “there can be no sequel”. How wrong they are! Think of the ending as a cliffhanger – and look forward to Spies on Safari, which I hope to publish before the end of the year.

As always, thank you for reading this, and please do write and tell me your news – I’m always pleased to get news, and I promise a personal reply.
Best wishes
Oliver Only