Friday, 17 January 2014

Forensic matters

Doing a refresher course on Forensics. Time to up-date myself on the latest methods.

Although in the cases I have been involved in up to now, there have been several murders, they have not been my responsibility to solve. Antonia and I are more concerned about catching the thieves who are stealing away our cultural heritage and selling it to unscrupulous collectors,  and to museums I'm sorry to say.

Lots of information on #Chasing Aphrodit on Twitter about recent findings. For more on my cases see

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Round the world

Commissaire Rousseau writes: I've been on leave and decided to go round the world. Still digesting my impressions.  So many things to see and signs of ancient civilisations which are fighting back after the trauma of colonisation. Very impressed with the Maori story in New Zealand. Will write more soon.

Monday, 14 January 2013

The Crusader's Chronicle

In the Commissaire Pierre Rousseau series The Crusader's Chronicle takes as it's source the eyewitness account of the Third Crusade by Geoffroi de Vinsauf. Little is known about the author, but his name gives rise to conjecture that he was in charge of winemaking at his monastery.

He is generally believed to have been an Englishman by birth, of a Norman family. His writings are numerous but his most important work is his History of the Third Crusade. It is the only eyewitness account that has come down to us of the furious assaults on the Christians by Saladin's army and of the way in which King Richard repulsed them. Geoffroi lived to see the death of Richard and the accession of King John, but he breaks off his history at the moment when the Crusaders embark on board ship to leave the Holy Land at the end of 1192.

The Crusader's Chronicle takes up his story after that date. 

Extracts from the chronicle are taken from Chronicles of the Crusades, published by Bell and Daldy, London, 1865

Saturday, 5 January 2013

The brig Mentor

The theme of  the fourth book in the Commissaire Pierre #Rousseau series, Return to the Parthenon, is inspired by the real events which took place off the island of #Kythera, Greece, in 1802.  Lord Elgin had loaded 17 crates of sculptures taken from the #Parthenon onto the small brig #Mentor. Brigs were two masted sailing vessels with a reputation as fast and manoeuvrable. However they required a large crew for their size and were difficult to handle when sailing into the wind.

The Mentor set sail heavily laden from Piraeus on September 16th, 1802. Strong winds made the voyage difficult and the ship ran onto the rocks off #Avlemonas on the island of Kythera and sank. #Elgin spent a fortune recovering the crates from the bottom of the sea, using Greek sponge divers to raise the sculptures. It was always suspected that some items were never recovered, since not all the marbles on Elgin's list were brought ashore.

A recent dive on the site in 2011 recovered only ancient coins and a quantity of personal items belonging to the crew.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Statue of Zeus at Olympia

   The theme of Return to the Parthenon is the discovery of sculptures from the Parthenon taken from the shipwreck of Elgin's ship HMS Mentor and hidden on the island of Kythira.    

   When the Temple of the Virgin Athena was being built by Pericles, he commissioned Pheidias to create the great statue of Athena. Later in 458 BC, Pheidias, was invited to construct a statue of Zeus to be placed in his Temple at Olympia.

   The statue was over thirteen metres tall and made of gold and ivory. Like Athena, Zeus held aloft in his right hand a statue of Victory. It was an awe-inspiring sight and later generations would rate the statue as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

   As the power of Rome grew Greece became subject to its will. Nero came to the Olympic Games in AD 67 and swore an oath at the foot of the statue of Zeus.  Soon many of the statues of past victors at the Games were taken from their plinths and shipped to Rome, including the statue of Hermes in the Temple of Hera by Praxiteles.

   The Emperor Caligula tried to ship even the statue of Zeus to Rome, but was foiled when unearthly noises from beneath the statue caused the workers to flee.  A later attempt in around 390 AD was successful and the statue was removed to Constantinople.

  By now the Christian religion was firmly estabished in the Empire. The statue still inspired awe in all those who viewed it in Constantinople and symbolised ultimate power.  For Christians it could only mean that this was the true likeness of their own God.  Although the great statue was destroyed by fire in 462 AD, when icon painters were creating images of their new Christian God they gave him the face of Zeus.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Parthenon Sculptures

Sculptures from the Parthenon can be seen in the
       British Museum,
       New Acropolis Museum, Athens,
       Musée du Louvre, Paris,
       Vatican Museums,
       National Museum of Copenhagen,
       Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna and
       Glyptothek Museum, Munich.

When Lord Elgin brought back the sculptures he had taken from the Parthenon, he created a museum in London which enabled artists to see the sculptures for the first time in detail in the original. The site of the museum is now The Hard Rock Café!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Historical Backgrounds

Author Graham Bishop writes: Part of the inspiration for the cases Commissaire Pierre Rousseau has been involved with concerning the theft of ancient artefacts has been the historical background.

Achilles' Helmet is based on accounts in the# Iliad of the ashes of Patroclus and Achilles being buried in the same urn; in The Athenian Connection the theft of #icons is not a rare occurrence unfortunately and their history is fascinating; The Crusader's Chronicle is based on the true eyewitness account of Geofroi de Vinsauf, a knight who fought with Richard the Lionheart in the Holy Land and Return to the Parthenon is inspired by the difficulties of salvaging the wreck of the #Mentor which carried the first shipload of the #Elgin #Marbles and which sank off the island of #Kythira.

As with any semi-historical novel there is the addition of the imagination of the writer, but the basic historical origins of the stories are based on good sources.

Sample all four first chapters for #free on the Vidocq Press website. All four books are available for download on #Kindle.