Subsequently, the Literary Saloon reminded their readers that I had written about the Freedland/Bourne novel when it was first commissioned. They reminded me about it too, because I had quite forgotten. And it turns out that, in my piece of 16 September 2004, I had complained loudly about the Fleet Street/publishing mafia, and the cosy deals done within that coterie, and had stated my view that, when the book finally did appear, it would not prove to be worth its very substantial advance (reported as the usual six figures).
Well, now the magazine Private Eye has come up with a few more details of what went on in the Grauniad office.
When the Dibdin review arrived, hilariously trashing Freedland's thriller, literary editor Claire Armitstead went to editor Alan Rusbridger and asked what to do about it. Amazingly, Rusbridger then referred the piece to Sam Bourne himself, aka Jonathan Freedland, asking if he wanted it to run. Surprise, surprise, Freedland said no.The Eye also says that 'still fuming, Freedland has now advised Armitstead that she should never ask Dibdin to write for the Grauniad again.' It also notes that, one month after the publication of The Righteous Men, the Dibdin review remains the only one that the book has received.
How can this be? It is in flagrant violation of the Old Pals Act of 1898 (section 42[d]), which states clearly that any book written by a Fleet Street journalist must automatically be reviewed by every other newspaper in the land. And, preferably, that the author be given a full-page interview as well.
Shome mishtake here, shurely. Perhaps people just don't realise who Sam Bourne is. Perhaps he ought to send a note round.