Thursday, 11 March 2021

New Publication Spotlight & Author Guest Post: Nighthawks by Lambert Nagle

Guest Blog post written by Alison Ripley Cubitt.

An Awkward Meeting Over Lunch  

In one scene of Nighthawks, an awkward encounter between the two major characters takes place over lunch. Detective Stephen Connor, working undercover, is new in town and has invited fellow Irishman Monsignor Michael McCarthy for lunch. McCarthy rashly agrees, but finds the encounter as embarrassing as Stephen does and wonders why he accepted the offer. 

Stephen asked McCarthy to take him to a typical Roman restaurant and McCarthy takes him at his word. Stephen knows he’s venturing into McCarthy’s territory. The lunch gets off to an awkward start as Stephen gets his timings wrong and is late. They meet in Monti, a trendy neighbourhood in the city centre, popular with locals and tourists alike, and Stephen made the mistake of exiting the Metro at Coliseum and has to push his way past all the tourists posing for selfies. 

Flustered, Stephen assumes that when he sits down, he’ll get a menu and be able to choose what he has for lunch. McCarthy is a regular at the restaurant and eats whatever the chef decides to put in front of him. Monsignor Michael McCarthy is a bit of a gourmand when he gets the opportunity. Stephen rashly tells his guest that he’s game to try anything, but draws the line at offal. McCarthy takes him at his word, and he is presented with a plate of bone marrow, one of those dishes which is all about how it tastes, rather than what it looks like. 

‘Stephen glanced down as the waiter slid a plate in front of him. There appeared to be a bone with a hole in the middle, oozing with fatty liquid, and sprinkled with parsley. It looked distinctly unappetising, but the aroma was Sunday roasts with Yorkshire pudding.’ To add to his unease, Stephen hasn’t a clue how you go about eating this and has to take his cue from his host. I chose this dish to show the age gap between the two characters and how food tastes have changed between generations. Stephen and McCarthy may be from the same country but they certainly don’t eat the same food.

They would have eaten at least one other course in the meal and some sort of vegetable accompaniment, but I skip that in the book. In winter it might be the dish of bitter greens known as puntarelle, a delicacy. They have dandelion-like leaves and need to be sliced thinly. Keen to try them, I once ordered a plate, but could only manage half of a rather large portion as the stems were quite stringy, although the dressing of olive oil, garlic, lemon and anchovy was tasty.  

As Stephen and McCarthy sit there, it becomes apparent that all these two really have in common is their ancestry, and Stephen struggles to find a topic of conversation to fill the awkward silences. He latches onto food and goes into detail about how his father was banned from eating his favourite food at home and had to be banished to Stephen’s grandma’s house to eat it. Stephen is aware he is trying too hard and feels embarrassed. It’s made worse when McCarthy says, ‘we’re both a long way from Cork.’ Stephen’s internal monologue is: And we didn’t come here to talk about food memories.

Nighthawks by Lambert Nagle

When art, money and power collide...
A Mafia boss addicted to beautiful art. A Catholic priest who knows too much. A modern-day Jay Gatsby.
And a woman on the run.

Disgraced London detective Stephen Connor is given an ultimatum: take a transfer to Rome or kiss his career goodbye.
With his love life in tatters and his confidence at an all-time low, can Stephen find the world's most valuable painting before it disappears forever?

Lambert Nagle is the pen-name for Alison Ripley Cubitt and Sean Cubitt, co-writers of international thrillers, mystery and crime. Alison is a former television production executive who worked for Walt Disney and the BBC before pivoting to become a multi-genre author and screenwriter. Her short film drama Waves (with Maciek Pisarek) won the Special Jury Prize, Worldfest, Houston. Sean’s day job is Professor of Film and Television, University of Melbourne, Australia. He writes about film and media for leading academic publishers.

Other titles by Lambert Nagle include Revolution Earth (featuring detective Stephen Connor) and Contained in Capital Crimes, a short story collection from members of ITW (International Thriller Writers) with a foreword by Peter James.

With six passports between them, they set their books in the far-away places they live and work.


Author: Instagram:@alisonripleycubitt

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