Arise James Naughtie, Novelist
Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 25th February, 2014
Millions of Britons are used to waking up to or coming round to the crisp Scottish tones of presenter James Naughtie on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, but this evening Jim showed another side of his talents when he launched his first novel, a thriller called The Madness of July (Head of Zeus, £12.99), which I shall be reviewing shortly, at a packed gathering in Carlton House Terrace, at the back of the ICA. Half of Fleet Street’s finest were there (these veteran hacks have survived that Press thoroughfare’s demise), as well as a goodly sprinkling of BBC types and members of both Houses of Parliament and the Garrick Club. After paying tribute to his wife — an author in her own right — Jim revealed that his publisher has in fact commissioned three novels from him, such is their confidence that they are on to a winner. He assured the throng that none of them was a character in the book, though there might be elements of them that some might recognise. I can imagine Lord Archer scurrying quickly home to see if he is one of those. The world Jim writes about in the book is a mixture of diplomacy, politics and trans-Atlantic skullduggery — all in a day’s work, one might think, for someone in his pole position in the agenda-setting Today studios. Of course, those of us who know Jim as a friend are well aware of the broad range of his cultural interests, not least regarding opera, but I suspect this new twist as Naughtie as novelist will take some by surprise — but a delightful surprise. In the meantime, Jim was well-launched at the party and won’t be in any hurry to get up at three o’clock tomorrow morning — his usual rising time on programme days — I imagine.