Lloyd Shepherd is the author of four historical thrillers set in the early 19th century featuring Charles Horton, a Wapping waterman-constable with an uncanny ability to detect the causes behind terrible crimes. The first of these novels, The English Monster, was shortlisted for the Historical Writers’ Association Debut Crown and the Author’s Society Best First Novel awards. The most recent, The Detective and the Devil, was published in 2016. Lloyd writes for The Guardian and The Literary Review, and lives in South London.
TALKS BY LLOYD AT THE FESTIVAL
A Detective in an Age of Wonders
Saturday 25th March - 16.00 - 17.00
Imagine being Wapping waterman-constable Charles Horton in 1815, when people still believed in witches and magic. In his talk, Lloyd Shepherd discusses the construction of novels which combine the impossible and the possible, and describes some of the real-life scientific adventures which inspired him.
Imagine being a detective in 1815. First of all, there’s no such word as ‘detective’. There’s no Metropolitan Police, no DNA or fingerprints or handwriting analysis or psychological profiling. You live in a world where it’s impossible to know what to believe and what to disbelieve, because so much of that world remains unexplained. It is, truly, an age of wonders. People still believe in witches, they still believe there is a fountain of youth somewhere in the New World, they still believe that an invisible ‘life force’ exists within and between us which can be used to manipulate us, they still don’t understand the processes of natural selection, plant reproduction or the effects of cyanide. If Arthur C Clarke was right when he said ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’, how on earth would our imaginary detective decide on what was real, and what, in truth, was not? Lloyd Shepherd’s Wapping waterman-constable Charles Horton has faced those questions across four novels now, and in his latest adventure, The Detective and the Devil, faces the most potent scientific magic of them all - alchemy. In his talk, Lloyd will discuss the construction of novels which combine the impossible and the possible, and will describe some of the real-life scientific adventures which inspired him.