A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. A lot can be fatal.’

Florence, October 1587. Francesco de’ Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany collapses whilst out hunting with his ambitious younger brother, the Cardinal Ferdinand. Soon the Duke is dead. Officially the Cardinal insists that his brother has died of a malarial fever. But secretly an investigation begins to find the killer – or a suitable scapegoat?

Galileo, a brilliant, impecunious, and unscrupulous young scientist, is struggling to make a name for himself at the corrupt court of the Medici. He is horrified to be arrested as the Duke’s murderer: nothing burns so well as a wicked magician! His only hope is to find the real killer – or, at least, a better scapegoat. His search takes him through the piazzas and palaces of Florence, through the barber-shops and brothels, the cloisters and the taverns. Especially the taverns.



The inspiration behind the book…

You can read more about how I was inspired to write this book about Galileo in a blog post I wrote for Judith Arnopp and if you like you can read an extract from the novel itself.


Ratsbane! or: How to poison an Elizabethan (part 1)

‘Arsenic’ is sometimes called ‘the king of poisons’. But already in the sixteenth-century ‘arsenic’ was available in several different forms, each more or less suited to the job in hand. This article looks at the main alternatives, and the problems that a tyro poisoner might have with sourcing and administering their preferred choice. [The featured…

Review: Simon Gray, The Smoking Diaries

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In my novel ‘Galileo’s Revenge’, our hero Galileo Galilei has to solve the suspicious death of Grand Duke Francesco de’ Medici (1541-87). In the course of his investigation, Galileo turns to the work of French barber-surgeon Ambroise Paré (c.1510-90), especially the treatise on poisons.

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