CRIME NOVELIST ALEX CAAN'S GUIDE TO LONDON
WORDS BY ALEX CAAN
It’s not everyday that we get to interview a novelist, especially a crime novelist whose debut book is set very much in London. British novelist Alex Caan’s crime thriller Cut To The Bone has all the ingredients for a gripping read – a missing YouTube vlogger, a million suspects, and a pair of detectives with secrets to hide.
Those who know London well will revel in all the landmarks – both popular with tourists and those lesser known – peppered in the book. The City Story spoke to Alex Caan to find out his own experiences in the city and the places that inspired his debut novel. This is his London.
The British Museum
I’ve been to a lot of museums in my life (#hobby) but this is by far my favourite. It is probably one of my favourite places in the world, and I always try to angle it in anything I write. I feel a thrill at our shared history as a species under its glass domed ceiling, and feel daunted by what people have achieved and what the possibilities of us is. And I often wonder what happens at night when the visitors are gone, so it was the perfect place for Zain to have a clandestine meeting.
The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Phone: 020 7323 8299.
By Velela (self taken photo) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Often overlooked by people who go to the Abbey, the Cathedral resonates with me because it’s fashioned in the style used in Istanbul when it was Constantinople. I love this exotic façade slap bang in the middle of bustling Victoria. One of the primary reasons I made Zain a quarter Turkish was so I could have him visit Istanbul, one of my favourite places. And he’s a quarter Indian so I could indulge my love of Bollywood-watch out for his Mumbai socialite mother in future novels!
Westminster Cathedral, 42 Francis Street, London SW1P 1QW. Phone: 020 7798 9055
St. James's Park
My favourite of all the London parks, it is also surrounded by some pretty impressive instruments of power. From the swans to the bridge, it all belies the fact that some very high up civil servants use it regularly to talk business. Zain and Kate had to meet here, and my second novel opens with a bang here as well.
St. James's Park, London SW1A 2BJ. Phone: 0300 061 2350.
Waterloo Millennium Green/The Cut
I worked by here for years, and really love the fact it feels so edgy in places, especially as it’s so close to Waterloo. I had many lunch breaks in the gardens, and when I was picking locations for Zain to live, this just jumped out at me. Plus you have the Old Vic, the South Bank and that magnificent Waterloo Bridge as possible locations, all easy to walk to.
Waterloo Millennium Green, Baylis Road, London SE1 7AA, United Kingdom
Borough/Elephant and Castle
This area of London holds many memories for me, I lived here for a number of years as did some of my closest friends. The area has changed a lot, but it will be a feature of all my London novels. It’s Dickensian in places, and yet has some of the most expensive postcodes in London in others. That’s what London is - a modern day Rome.
Elephant and Castle, London SE1 6TB
Little Venice is typical of London; it’s a corridor of tranquillity, a canal no less, pushed up right against a bustling through road. Little Venice and Warwick Avenue are great for whiling away a Sunday afternoon, and then heading down to get a bite to eat at one of the many Arab restaurants on Edgware Road. If I was a YouTube vlogger like Ruby, with the wealth they are generating, I’d definitely choose to live here.
Little Venice, London W9 2PF
A brief mention in book one, this plays a much greater role in book two. It’s where Kate chooses to live, where she feels her secrets can be best protected. With its government level security, manicured gardens, onsite malls, restaurant and gym/pool, you could live within its gates without too much care for the outside world. And that self-contained environment is what gives this place its exciting past of spies, scandals, and political shenanigans. It’s the perfect place for a novelist; it gives up its secrets like the best thrillers, a bastion of the elite with the secretive setting on the Thames.
Dolphin Square, Chichester Street, Pimlico, London SW1V 3LX
Alex Caan's debut novel Cut To The Bone is now out in eBook format, and the paperback version comes out on November 3, 2016.