Detective Shaw’s London: the London Eye

Leaving the parliament building behind us and walking along Victoria Embankment, our gaze is immediately caught by an enormous white Ferris wheel located on the opposite side of the Thames, between Westminster and Hungerford bridges: the London Eye.
It is one of London’s newest attractions. Built in 1999 and opened to the public in March 2000, the London Eye is the largest Ferris wheel in Europe and, until the completion of the Shard, it was also the highest point from which you can admire the city.

Leaning over the waters of the Thames, the London Eye is supported by an A-shaped structure, the tie rods of which are anchored over a small area of the Jubilee Gardens.
If we cross the river on Westminster Bridge and approach the wheel, we cannot help but raise our nose more and more as we get closer to it, in an attempt to embrace it entirely with our gaze. Although I have never boarded it (so far), in all my trips to London following its construction (the photos in this article were taken in 2008, except for the last one, which is from 2012) I found myself every time admiring it from below with a slight sense of vertigo.

The ticket office is located in the building almost in front (a little to the right) of the reception for boarding the cabins, in any case, given that it is the most popular attraction in the city (3.5 million of visitors in the year), it is advisable to book your ticket online, on the official website, thus also obtaining a small discount.
The duration of the ride in one of the thirty-two cabins (equipped with interactive guides), which move slowly enough to allow you to get on and off without stopping them, is thirty minutes in total. It is undoubtedly an exhilarating experience, provided that the weather conditions do not reduce visibility.

The London Eye is managed by Merlin Entertainment (the same one that manages Madame Tussauds, but also Gardaland in Italy!) and changes its official name every certain number of years (variable) acquiring from time to time that of its sponsor.

To get to the London Eye, the nearest Tube station is Waterloo, but Charing Cross, Embankment, and Westminster are quite close. The attraction also has a pier, the London Eye Pier, where boats from Thames Clippers and City Cruises stop.

The London Eye plays a very important role in the final book of the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy. In addition to being located exactly on the opposite side of the Thames from the Curtis Green Building (new headquarters of New Scotland Yard), and therefore visible even from Eric’s office, the entire area in its immediate vicinity is the location of a dramatic action scene in “Beyond the Limit”, which involves one of the victims of the Plastic Surgeon, but also Eric, DI Miriam Leroux (Murder Investigation Team), Sergeant Mills (Murder Investigation Team) and PC Cora Patel (a new character). However, I cannot tell you more without ruining the surprise of discovering what will happen in this scene and, above all, how it will end.

At night, the London Eye becomes even more beautiful thanks to the coloured lights that illuminate the wheel and the inside of the cabins.

Detective Shaw’s London: Covent Garden Market

One of the most characteristic neighbourhoods of the City of Westminster, located in the east of the West End, of which it constitutes the beating heart, is Covent Garden. Its name derives from a distortion of the term “Convent Garden” since between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the garden of a convent was there, but it is mostly associated with two historical places found within it: the Royal Opera House, which is often simply referred to as Covent Garden, and the Covent Garden Market.

The latter is located in the central square of the neighbourhood, and in the past hosted a real market, the modern version of which was moved to Nine Elms (New Covent Garden Market) in 1974. The current Covent Garden Market is more of a shopping centre, which houses shops, restaurants, and a craft market, called Apple Market.

From a historical point of view, the first evidence of the existence of a market in Covent Garden can be traced back to 1654, but the neoclassical building which represents the current heart of the neighbourhood was built much later: in 1830. In the 1960s, increased traffic became a major problem, prompting the construction of a new building in Nine Elms and the relocation of the market there in the following decade. The old building was then converted into the current shopping centre and reopened in 1980.

For anyone going to London the Covent Garden Market is a stop not to be missed to spend some time listening to live music while drinking something cold or hot (depending on the season), to try one of its restaurants, to make some purchases or, simply, to stop and watch the cheerful comings and goings of people who crowd it every day.

Getting there is easy since on the Piccadilly Line there is a station called Covent Garden, which is a stone’s throw from the market. Another particularly close station is Leicester Square on the Piccadilly Line and the Northern Line.


I happened to go there almost every time I was in London (the photos date back to 2011) and so I couldn’t help but mention it in the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy.

In particular, the market is the place where a scene of the final book, “Beyond the Limit”, takes place, in which DCI George Jankowski, Eric’s colleague and also the head of another forensic team, meets a journalist, Burton Phillips, who manages a judicial crime blog and who in 2014 followed the trial against the man believed to be the serial killer called “Plastic Surgeon”. Although the man was convicted and is in prison, the recent murder of a woman at Madame Tussauds suggests that the same killer is behind it.

The conversation between Jankowski and Phillips ideally takes place at one of the tables visible in the second photo above. Precisely this photo inspired me to write the scene, so much so that it is even possible to see the boy mentioned at the beginning as he’s taking a photo of the musicians.

New year, new resolutions (?): 2024

The end of the year has arrived again and with it the time to take stock and define some goals for the one that is about to begin.

But is it really necessary?

I recently reorganised a good part of the contents of my Italian blog and I realised that there were as many as twelve posts dedicated to New Year’s resolutions, meaning that this is the thirteenth year that I have decided to end by writing such an article. And I wondered if it still makes sense to do it.

Of course, it’s more of an exercise to refresh my thoughts on the things I did in the last twelve months, but it was originally thought as a way to encourage myself to continue my projects related to writing and then publishing.

Although I completed pre-existing publishing projects this year (I’ll tell you about them shortly), I didn’t start any new ones since at least the end of 2020, when I finished writing and published my last book in Italian.


As I already mentioned to you a year ago, in fact, at the moment what I want most in the publishing field is to finish everything I started, in order to draw a line on my work, before finally understanding which direction to take my efforts in. In short, I absolutely need to complete past years’ resolutions once and for all before I can define new ones.

To this end in early 2023 I compiled a long list that included them all, plus many other things I had been considering for some time, but had never listed in one place, and from then on I started to address each point, possibly in order, and then cross it out once completed. The list contains something like fifty items, some of which have numerous sub-items. So far I have crossed out eighteen, while six are in progress (some very close to completion).

In short, the road is still long, but I don’t consider it a problem as long as I continue to move forward.


Looking at the list now, it might seem like I didn’t do much. In reality, some of the items include commitments that are anything but quick, starting from the resolutions I had set for myself at the end of 2022.

Do you remember them? There were three in total.

The first, and most substantial one, was to complete the preparation and publication of the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy in English. At the end of 2022 I had already published the new translation of “The Mentor”, while, as I had planned, “Syndrome” and “Beyond the Limit” were released on 28 February and 31 May respectively.

As you can imagine, this way the first five months of the year and a good part of the sixth were taken up with all the preparation work, publishing and promotion.

I am very satisfied with the books, both in terms of content and packaging.

Compared to the Italian versions I made few changes to the covers, mainly concerning the font used for my name and, in the paper editions, the spine, where both my new logo and the stylised lotus flower, which represents the trilogy, are visible, with the number of the volume inside it.

Also for these two books, I created five different editions (one ebook and four in print, two of which in hardcover), each of which required some modifications to meet the guidelines of the different platforms. Furthermore, I have prepared some promotional images, along the lines of the one created for “The Mentor”, which you can see in this article.


The promotion went more or less as I expected: as long as I promoted the books, they sold well, as soon as I stopped, they stopped too. But unfortunately, this is the case in general, even more so in a boundless market like the English-speaking one.

But it was fun to do a blog tour and read the reviews of the bloggers who participated or I contacted separately: everyone seemed to enjoy the books. I have also followed with interest the various promotional activities, in particular the paid newsletters, among which I obtained an international Bookbub Featured Deal (in the UK, Canada and Australia), which went better than I expected. Looking at the numbers, I was pleased to notice that a good part of the readers who buy the first book then proceed with the second and then with the third.


I didn’t expect to repeat the success that “The Mentor” had had with AmazonCrossing in 2015, because this time I was alone, I couldn’t count on the promotional push of Amazon Publishing, but my main intent was to complete the project to have the entire trilogy in English, so as to allow those who started reading it to get to the end of the story. Furthermore, only by having it all in English could I then think of new ways to reach other readers.

In the first half of this year I also tried to move towards one of my dreams, which will probably never come true (although never say never!), that is seeing something I wrote appear on the (big or small) screen. I tried it with the trilogy. I’ve seen some interest in continental Europe, but there was zero in the UK, even though I’d made a lot more contacts there over the past few years. Some producers have even read the first book. One of them (from a production company based in Germany) was even enthusiastic about it and considered optioning the book (or the entire series).

Unfortunately, as you can imagine, since I didn’t tell you about it, in the end nothing happenes. I was a bit sad, but I kind of expected it. Of course, an option doesn’t mean that a series would then be made, but it would have been a personal satisfaction (as well as, within certain limits, an economic one).

And that’s fine: the important thing for me was to leave no stone unturned. I’m happy I tried and I don’t rule out trying again.

All this to tell you how half of 2023 has flown by.
And what happened in the other half?
Well, I wasn’t able to finish upgrading all my sites to make them mobile-friendly.

I’m still working on it, although at least as far as the main Italian website ( is concerned I’m very close to completing the work. At the moment you can’t see any of this on the site as I’m revolutionising it and therefore the changes will only go online when everything is ready. But its general structure is now complete. I just have to finish adding the contents to some pages dedicated to my books (specifically those for the various genres) and fill in the pages for the events (which for now will only contain the past ones), extra contents (some of which I still have to create) and contacts.

Creating the English version should be relatively quick, given that the site will be the same but with the graphic elements in English and the books available in this language, which are only eight out of the total of fifteen in Italian (to which the books by Richard J. Galloway which I translated into my language are added).

Finally, I will still have to do the Italian website of Red Desert and the Aurora Chronicles. The content will not change, but I will simply create an alternative version usable for small screens.

In addition to that, I will also have to do something similar for my website as a freelance translator.


What else did I do in 2023?

I have continued to update my old books to remove broken links and outdated information. This regarded my Italian essay on self-publishing, “Self-publishing lab. Il mestiere dell’autoeditore”, which by its nature would require updates every few months, but I’m at least trying to update it once a year.

I then moved on to the English editions, in particular to the books of the Red Desert series. Here, in addition to updating the front and the back matter (i.e. the pages before and after the text of the novel), I ventured into a rereading to try to find some errors that the editor and proofreader missed. Obviously this takes a little longer. However, the first two books have been updated and the corrected versions are now online. I’m currently reviewing the last chapter of the third one, so I plan to finish it by January. Then there remains the fourth, which is the longest, but I can say that I will also be able to complete this commitment in a short time.


Among the other things related to publishing that I did this year was that every now and then I tried to put myself back in front of the white sheet, even if with a certain reluctance (to use a euphemism). It was more of an exercise which, in a handful of sessions, led to the writing of the first two scenes of “Evidence”, i.e. the prequel novella of the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy.

But don’t get excited!

As I told you, I already have the complete outline of this book. I limited myself to trying to turn the first two points into written pages and I admit that making Miriam Leroux and PC Mills (who was not yet a sergeant at that time) argue was fun. However, I don’t know when or if I’ll move forward and I don’t want to make any commitments about it as I’m not particularly dying to do so.


Then obviously there is everything that does not concern writing and publishing, or even my job as translator (which I usually do anyway).

There were summer holidays. This year too I wanted to go to the mountains in July. This time I spent a week in Vinschgau (Val Venosta), one of the few valleys in Trentino South Tyrol that I had never visited. With my partner, we spent a week in Schandlers (or rather in Kortsch, which is a hamlet of it) and from there we moved in various directions to visit places such as Lake Reschen (the one with the famous bell tower emerging from the water that is featured in the Netflix series “Curon”; see the photo above), the sources of the Adige, Glurns, Marienberg Abbey, the Stelvio pass (see the photo below), the Schnalstal (Val Senales), Meran and many others.

If you follow my Facebook page, you will have seen the photos and videos. You can retrieve them more easily on my profile on Instagram, also by seeing the highlighted stories indicated as “Vacanze 2023”. If you are among my friends on my personal Facebook profile, you can find a huge photo album (I always exaggerate!).

It was a truly relaxing week surrounded by the peace of the mountains, dedicated to very long (and often tiring) walks in beautiful places, many of which were not at all crowded with tourists. Indeed, when walking around the lakes or taking one of the many routes you most often met local people, perhaps with a dog in tow, and then it was all “Hallo”, “Bitteschön” and “Dankeschön” to greet each other, give way to the other and say thank you. I must say that we were very good at camouflaging ourselves, thanks to our appearance!

And, since I’m talking about German language, I can say that I’m happy that I managed to freshen it up a bit, especially in the second half of the year. I’m still far from the level I was about ten years ago, but I’m starting to see improvements. I also picked up a book (so to speak, since it’s on Kindle) by a Swiss colleague. I downloaded it several years ago and now I’m trying my hand at reading it. I’m going slowly because I don’t remember several words that I used to know, but with the help of the online dictionary and a little perseverance they are slowly returning.

I should do the same with French too, but maybe we’ll talk about it later. One language at a time!

The trick to doing this was to incorporate studying into my routine before starting work. It wasn’t difficult, because studying languages is fun for me (as is translating). The fact that it is also useful doubles the satisfaction.


And I was always able to incorporate a bit of physical activity into my routine, which was one of my three resolutions for the year.

I admit that I haven’t been exactly consistent. I stopped several times for a couple of months, but lately I’ve been managing to do it as soon as I get up, to wake up the body, while the head is still a little asleep.

But don’t imagine who knows how much effort! I take it easy, after checking emails and notifications on my phone (still in bed), after eating a banana (otherwise I’d pass out) and drinking some fruit juice. Then I put myself in front of the TV and do a Zumba class, which can last from a quarter of an hour to an hour. Now that the tennis season has started again I will also get back to working out on my exercise bike in front of the TV.


And, speaking of tennis, just like last year, this one I saw a lot of it, probably even more. I must say that from this point of view it was a very satisfying season for us Italian fans (thanks to Jannik Sinner and, of course, the winning of Davis Cup) and this contributed to my general good mood, particularly in the last few months.

But I didn’t just watch it from home.

In May, I attended the ATP Challenger 175 tournament that was organised here in Cagliari (Sardegna Open) and, in September, I went to see the group stage of the Davis Cup in Bologna (you can also find photos of it on Facebook and Instagram; see Lorenzo Sonego in the photo below) and I also took the opportunity to be a bit of a tourist in the city.

I would have also liked to go to Malaga for the finals (and, given how it went in the end, I regret I didn’t), but, apart from the fact that choices have to be made (also for obvious economic reasons), there was little time to organise the travel when they finally made dedicated tickets available to fans of a specific national team. The fact of living in Sardinia and having to take two flights, which are not available every day, certainly doesn’t help, and is also one of the reasons that tend to stop me from going to see tournaments around Europe. Often, in fact, the flights don’t exist at all until a few months before the event when tickets for the tournaments can no longer be found.

However, the three days cheering for Italy at the Unipol Arena were fantastic, apart from a certain discomfort caused by the seats, which for a stay of even ten hours in a row can become quite annoying. But for tennis you do this and more!

Well, I’d say that’s pretty much all I’ve done this year.

If you take a look at last year’s article, you’ll notice that I kept true to two out of three resolutions, that of completing the publication of the trilogy in English and promoting it and that of doing physical activity.

Furthermore, I am well underway with the third one, which is the upgrading of my websites. There is still a lot to do here, but compared to a year ago the path is now clear. I just have to keep working on it, one page at a time.


What will be the resolutions for 2024?

I confess that this time I don’t really feel like defining a precise list, since I would end up putting absolutely unnecessary pressure on myself.

My goal remains the same: complete that famous list I told you about. I definitely can’t do it in a year, as it includes some long-term goals, but I would like to at least finish the loose ends.

All right: let’s make a list!

1) Complete the upgrading of my websites to make them suitable for browsing on mobile devices, which is the only resolution from last year that remains pending. If I don’t get distracted by unexpected events, I think I can do it (hopefully!).

2) Continue to do physical activity and remove the rust from my German. This resolution is easy, because it’s the fun part.

3) Finally being able to put myself in front of the question “What do I do now?” and try to give me an answer.

Okay, this is a bit generic, but that’s on purpose, also because this article is becoming too long to delve into the topic in depth.

In reality, the question has been buzzing in my head for a while, and some possible answers are starting to present themselves, but what I’m missing is the chance to get rid of unfinished business first so as not to have to tackle new projects with only a few hours a day available or maybe not even every day.

Among the various things that float in my thoughts there is the desire to dedicate more time to writing articles, which I have probably been carrying on since I started blogging in the noughties, but I don’t want it to be a pastime, also because I have no spare time at all. It must be something more complex, with a purpose, a bit like the blog dedicated to self-publishing with which I promoted my essay in 2020-2021. I’m not talking about an open-ended project, as just the thought of it makes me anxious! But a short and limited writing experience, which allows me to write without embarking on a new book.
The latter would require a mental commitment of a very different level, which at the moment, and certainly as long as I have something else to complete, I don’t feel like making.
We’ll see in the future!

As always, I close by heartily thanking all of you for the support you give me and I wish you a 2024 full of satisfactions.

If you like, tell me about your 2023 and your resolutions for 2024 in the comments, here or on social media.
Have a good end and a good beginning!

Detective Shaw’s London: West End and Savoy Theatre

In London there is an area that occupies a large part of the City of Westminster and the Borough of Camden Town, and which is simply known by the name of West End (photo of dgmiami, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). This geographical reference derives from its position with respect to the City, the ancient Roman London, with which it borders to the east, so that in the past this had made it the western end of the British capital. Now, however, the West End is in fact a substantial part of the centre of the current London metropolis.


This is a very large area, which includes several places described in previous articles in this series: Marylebone, New Scotland Yard (both old and new), and Leicester Square. But throughout the world, the West End is mostly synonymous with Theatreland, that is, the theatre area, which mainly occupies the neighbourhood of Covent Garden. So much so that the terminology “West End theatre” exists to define the practice of professional theatre in London, which, together with Broadway theatre in New York, represents the pinnacle of global Anglophone commercial theatre.

More generally, the West End is the hub of London entertainment, given the high concentration of theatres, but also cinemas, restaurants and pubs, where you eat, drink, and listen to live music.

West End was also the first name of the British duo Pet Show Boys, who later dedicated the famous song “West End Girls” to this area.

Among the many theatres in the West End is the Savoy Theatre (see photo of the interior of the theatre, taken from, located in Savoy Court, an alley which merges into Strand, the latter is one of the most famous streets in London, which starting from Trafalgar Square reaches the edge of the City. You can get there easily on foot from Charing Cross Tube station or Embankment Tube station.

Today’s Savoy Theatre has the peculiarity of being built below street level, and the hotel of the same name is located above it. Like most London theatres, it develops above all in height, with two circles overlooking the stalls (in total it comprises 1158 seats), reducing the distance between spectators and stage to a minimum, and favouring the enjoyment of the show. Having been there in person in 2008, to see the musical “Never Forget”, based on the songs of Take That, I can confirm it!


The site of the Savoy Theatre, however, has a history of reconstruction and renovation that dates back well before 1881, when it first opened. Previously, that same site had had a very different intended use.

In 1246 the Savoy Palace was built there for Peter, the Earl of Richmond, who had been granted the land by King Henry III. Also, the title of Earl of Richmond had been granted by the king to Count Peter of Savoy, uncle of his wife (Eleanor of Provence), and the name Savoy which has survived to the present day derives from him.


Nothing remained of that building in the first Savoy theatre, as it was burned down in 1831. Subsequently, a hospital was built on its ruins (1505) until the latter was also destroyed by fire. Only in 1881 would it become a theatre.

Since then its interior was completely rebuilt in 1929, while its subsequent renovation, begun in 1990, suffered a setback due to yet another fire. The last reopening dates back to 1993, in its current form, with which they tried as much as possible to reproduce its original structure.


The performances nowadays are always musicals, some repeated for several years in a row. You can purchase tickets directly from the official website of the theatre, but through some online agencies you can often find discounted prices, which allow you to attend beautiful shows with a limited expense.


The West End often appears in the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy, however it only has a crucial role in the last book of the series, “Beyond the Limit”, in which we see DI Miriam Leroux and Sergeant Mills driving on the Strand, and we find another important character in Covent Garden Market (but I will talk about this in the next article in the series), but above all this area is literally the scene of a crime, which is committed precisely in the Savoy packed with spectators.

In reality, the crime would take place on a day (on 22 May 2017) in which there was no performance, but this too is nothing more than one of my many artistic licences.

Detective Shaw’s London: Madame Tussauds

I have already talked about Madame Tussauds in the article dedicated to the Marylebone district (which I invite you to read for more information), but I thought that this very famous wax museum deserved another article entirely focused on it, given the crucial role it plays in the final book of the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy, “Beyond the Limit”.

It is part of a chain of wax museums, present in twelve different cities around the world, but the first was precisely that of London, founded by the sculptor Marie Tussaud in 1835, the year in which she held the first exhibition of her collection. Currently, the Madame Tussauds museum chain belongs to the English company Merlin Entertainment, which among other things also owns Gardaland in Italy.

I had the pleasure of visiting the museum twice at a great distance in time: once in 1990 and once in 2011. Some parts of the exhibition have not actually changed that much, especially those relating to the reconstructions of scenes from the past, while the waxworks of contemporary celebrities always tend to reflect the fashions of the times and, perhaps, the ageing of public figures they represent. Among the historical waxworks in particular, I cannot fail to mention “Sleeping Beauty”, which seems to be the oldest still on display. It is the work of Tussaud’s teacher, Doctor Curtius, and is dated 1765. This is characterised by a movement of the chest which simulates breathing, just as if she were sleeping, and represents Madame Du Barry.

The exhibition consists of a more or less obligatory path in which different settings are encountered. A particular room is the so-called party room, in which the waxworks are scattered in a large space and would almost blend in with the visitors if they were also wearing evening clothes.

Some are isolated, but others are connected to furnishing elements. There is, for example, George Clooney sitting at a table and visitors can sit next to or in front of him. And place their hand on his. Another particular waxwork is that of Julia Roberts, who is standing behind a chair often placed in front of a table (the arrangements change according to needs), with her hands resting on the backrest. In a sense, the chair is part of the waxwork, for without it poor Julia would fall forward. And on this chair you can sit to take a photo with her.

And precisely, the waxwork of Julia Roberts is the protagonist of some scenes of “Beyond the Limit”. I won’t tell you how, but I’ll leave you the pleasure of discovering it for yourself while reading the book.

While imagining these scenes, I obviously had to take some licence since the arrangement of the waxworks in the museum is changed periodically, and I certainly couldn’t know what it would be on 21 May 2017, the day in which the scenes in question are set, given that I wrote them in November 2016.

Among the other waxworks that are seen (so to speak) in the book there is precisely that of Clooney, but also that of Nicole Kidman, Helen Mirren, Johnny Depp, and Tom Cruise, all in the party room.

The ticket to visit Madame Tussauds in London is quite expensive (at the time of writing, the basic one is 47 GBP), but you can save some money by booking it online. Furthermore, it’s possible to combine it with other tourist attractions, such as the London Eye (which I will talk about in another article), paying a much lower amount than the sum of the two separate tickets.

Inside Madame Tussauds, there is also a sort of 4D cinema (3D plus motion simulation), whose short shows are included in the price.

However, the funniest part of the visit is taking photos with your idols, even cheek to cheek, and discovering that some of them are shorter than you thought, or taller.

In the photos you can see me with George, between Helen and Nicole (how tall she is!), with Johnny, with Julia, and with the legendary Bruce (Wills).

Detective Shaw’s London: Tower Bridge

The bridge over the Thames which more than any other is considered a symbol of London is undoubtedly Tower Bridge, so called because it connects the village of Southwark to the Tower of London, located on the western edge of the borough of Tower Hamlets, on the border with the City.

The Tower Bridge is made up of two towers, connected by a road, which constitutes the central span, and by pedestrian walkways running above it. The former is made up of two mobile portions, which can be raised to allow the passage of taller boats. On both sides there are as many spans, which are proper suspension bridges.

Its construction was completed in 1894, and initially the opening mechanism was powered by steam engines, which remained in operation until 1976. Nowadays, these are replaced by the latest modern technologies, which allow their complete opening in just ninety seconds.
It is also true, however, that the bridge is opened quite rarely (about a thousand times in a year, therefore less than three per day), so much so that it is said that seeing it open brings good luck. However, the Victorian engines are still present within the structure and can be visited.
Pedestrians can also access the high-level walkways (renovated in 2009), which have a glass floor, and from there enjoy a fascinating view of the city and the river. To do this they have to climb almost three hundred steps, but they can also take a lift. The walkways often host special exhibitions and other events.

Access to the Victorian walkways and engine rooms is included in the Tower Bridge Exhibition and is possible upon payment of a ticket, which can also be purchased online. These are open every day of the year, except for 24, 25, and 26 December.

Tower Bridge underwent a four-year renovation from 2008 to make it ready for the Olympics and Paralympics, which were held in London in 2012. In conjunction with these events, their symbols were respectively suspended from the walkways (as you can see in the photos taken by me in August 2012 with the five Olympic rings).
For some strange reason, Tower Bridge is often called London Bridge, in reality this is a mistake, since London Bridge is another very distinct bridge.

You can get to Tower Bridge from the Tower Hill Tube station, from which you can also easily reach the Tower of London, where you can visit, among other things, the English Crown Jewels.

The monument is actually a real castle which in the past also served as a prison (until 1952) and where prisoners were executed, but in its history it had many other functions, including that of a royal residence. For more information on the Tower of London, I recommend you visit its official website, where it is also possible to purchase entrance tickets online with a small discount on the price.

If, however, you want to get to Tower Bridge from Southwark, you have to get off at London Bridge station, which is very close to
The Shard (in the third photo in the background, while in the foreground there is a part of the Tower of London; this photo was also taken by me in August 2012).

Tower Bridge also makes an appearance in the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy, and in particular in “Syndrome”. This happens in the same scene where The Shard appears, during which DI Miriam Leroux and Sergeant Mills are the protagonists of a spectacular (in the minds of those who imagine it, hopefully!) car chase ending in an accident on the bridge. To find out who the two police officers were chasing and whether the fugitive was then caught, you will have to read the book.

Detective Shaw’s London: The Shard

In Southwark, not far from the Thames and the City, located on the opposite side of the river, there is the tallest skyscraper in London, third in Europe: The Shard, also called Shard of Glass and 32 London Bridge, which derives from its address (32 London Bridge Street).

There is a lot of Italy in this tower with the shape of an irregular pyramid completely covered in glass: it was designed by the well-known Genoese architect Renzo Piano. Its construction began in 2009 and finished in July 2012, although it only opened the following year.

The last time I was in London was August 2012, for the Olympics, not long after its inauguration on 5 July of the same year, and I was able to admire it from afar, as I wandered near the Tower of London, in the City. The photo above was taken by me during my short stay (the one below is by Cmglee). But I didn’t get close to it, and therefore I didn’t have the opportunity to visit it. However, it is on the list of attractions of this city that I intend to see more closely or perhaps inside sooner or later.

The building is almost 310 meters high and includes 87 floors, of which 72 are habitable. Inside, it houses a variety of premises, including offices, luxury flats, a shopping centre, restaurants, bars, and a five-star hotel, Shangri-La, which includes 202 rooms and occupies floors 34 to 52.

Floor 69 and the terrace on 72 offer an unrivalled panoramic view
of the metropolis which allows you to see 360 degrees up to approximately 60 km away.

These are open to the public. The visit is quite expensive, but you can save something by booking it online. For those who live in London or plan to stay there for a long time, there is also the possibility of purchasing an annual ticket which allows you to go up to the terrace every day.

The Shard appears in two scenes of “Syndrome”, the second book in the Detective Eric Shaw trilogy. Both concern a character wanted by the police.
The first takes place inside one of the flats where this character is hiding (I won’t say his name to avoid spoilers about the book).
The second features DI Miriam Leroux and Sergeant Mills sitting in a police car near the entrance to the Shangri-La. The identification of the suspect will lead to a chase through the busy streets of the city, up to another attraction which I will talk about in the next article.

Detective Shaw’s London: Notting Hill

Located in north-western London and almost completely crossed by Portobello Road, Notting Hill is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating and famous districts of the British capital. It’s no coincidence that it is the location of numerous novels and films. Among the latter, the best known is undoubtedly the 1999 romantic comedy that bears the same name of the district (“Notting Hill”) starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.
It is obviously a tourist destination, but very popular with Londoners too, thanks to the abundance of designer shops, particularly in Westbourne Grove, and the numerous pubs and restaurants.


Its most characteristic street is Portobello Road, which with its colourful facades hosts the famous antiques and fresh food market. Here are also some locations used during the Portobello Film Festival, an international independent film festival founded in 1996 where every year more than 700 films are screened for the first time. And moreover, George Orwell lived in this street.

Since 1966, every year in August the district has also been the scene of the Notting Hill Carnival, a real Caribbean costumed party that pours into the streets, attracting millions of people, and which represents one of the biggest street festivals in the world. The event passes through the central part of Westbourne Grove.

As you might guess from the name, Notting Hill stands on a little hill, which reaches its summit in the middle of Ladbroke Grove. However, it has no official boundaries. It is located within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, but is close to the boundary with the City of Westminster, so at a stone’s throw from Paddington train station and not far from many other central London attractions.
But if you don’t want to walk, you can reach one of the five Tube stations inside it: Kensal Green, Westbourne Park, Ladbroke Grove, Latimer Road, and Notting Hill Gate.

What is considered the key area of Notting Hill is North Kensington, characterised by a constant renewal of the population, largely made up of immigrants, which make it one of the most cosmopolitan areas in the world. This is where the most violent acts of the Notting Hill race riots of 1958 took place, but it is also where its carnival began and where most of the scenes in the film starring Grant and Roberts were filmed.

Up until a few years ago, among the numerous and well-known restaurants in Notting Hill there was one in particular: an Italian restaurant called Negozio Classica, even if the name in Italian doesn’t sound good at all, and it’s not clear what it means. It was wedged into a building at the corner of Portobello Road and Westbourne Grove and was characterised by a red facade with shop windows on both walls, from which it was possible to see the inside of the place and its patrons, but several tables were arranged outside, too. More precisely, it was a winery, where, however, you could also eat dishes from Tuscan cuisine.

The restaurant Negozio Classica makes an appearance in the second book of the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy, “Syndrome” (set in 2016), in a scene where Eric Shaw has lunch with his friend Catherine Foulger and discusses with her some serious facts (mysterious illnesses and an attempted murder) which took place in the St Nicholas Hospital (which in reality does not exist). The dishes mentioned in the scene were actually present on the menu of the restaurant, but the two characters have no way of enjoying them properly, since their conversation leads to an argument. The name of the restaurant is not actually shown in the scene, although its description and location details allow for easy identification. However, it is then mentioned later in the book.

The place used to open at 3.30 p.m., so in theory people didn’t go there precisely to have lunch. In fact, I took an artistic licence here, but the place looked so nice that I really wanted to set a scene there. We also know that Eric is always so absorbed in his work that he often finds himself eating at unconventional hours, when he remembers to do so, so he may have gone there shortly after its opening. Who knows?
I’ve never been to this place, but Eric thinks the food is good. It’s really a shame it doesn’t exist anymore!

Detective Shaw’s London: Italian Gardens and Hyde Park

The Royal Parks are among the most atmospheric places in London. Some of these are located in the centre of the British capital, yet if you walk inside them, you lose the perception of the swarm of people and cars that are just a few hundred metres away. Immersed in greenery, among flowers and watercourses, you cannot see or hear the nearby metropolitan chaos. The illusion of being in a wild territory is broken by the paths, the well-kept lawns and plants, the statues, and the wonderful fountains.

Particularly fine among the latter are those found in the Italian Gardens, situated at the point where the Kensington Gardens adjoin Hyde Park, north of the Long Water basin. You can get there through the entrance called Lancaster Gate, which is near the Tube station with the same name.

Built in 1861, they are said to have been a gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria. The gardens consist of four Carrara marble basins, adorned with fountains, statues, and urns. North of the pools is the Pump House, which once contained the steam engine that powered the fountains. And the pillar sticking out of the roof is nothing more than a smokestack. The basins are home to beautiful swans, which allow themselves to be observed carelessly by Londoners and tourists who stroll beside them or sit on the benches located all around.

The Italian Gardens have also appeared in famous films such as “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason”.

Moving eastward, the immense Hyde Park begins, with a total area of 253 hectares, bisected by Serpentine Lake. Its dimensions are such that it is really easy to lose your sense of direction if you don’t follow the indications and maps distributed in numerous signs inside it.

It contains numerous places of tourist interest, starting with the two triumphal arches located to the southeast and northeast: Wellington Arch and Marble Arch. Near the latter is the Speakers’ Corner, where people, especially on weekends, still give speeches to express their opinions. To the south is the memorial to Lady Diana and to the southeast the one to the victims of the holocaust and the London bombings of 7 July 2005. Also, to the southeast, is the Rose Garden, which is especially beautiful to see in early summer.

The park is also the only one controlled by the Metropolitan Police, which has their own station inside it. There are also deck chairs and umbrellas, a sports centre dedicated to tennis, boat rental services, commercial premises, bars, other sports fields, and playgrounds. 

Furthermore, the park is often the scene of important rock and pop concerts, including artists like The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and Madonna. In it, in particular, one of the most famous concerts of Queen was held in 1976 with 225,000 spectators.

Hyde Park was also one of the venues for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The Italian Gardens and Hyde Park make their appearance in the second book of the Detective Eric Shaw trilogy, “Syndrome”. A young prostitute realises she is being followed by a man for whom she did a small illegal job and hides near the Pump House of the Italian Gardens, then runs away towards Hyde Park, heading to a playground, to ask for help, but she will soon find death. Later, we see Adele Pennington, Jane Hall and Miriam Leroux at the crime scene, where Adele spots someone who may be the suspect.