Free Caravaggio short story, but you’ll have to pay for the novel by Matt Rees

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I was reading this week about a 23-year-old cricketer who died tragically in strange circumstances. He was stopped by police driving erratically in London at 4 a.m. Shortly afterwards he was lying on a train track and killed. What drew my attention, after consideration of the tragedy, was that when he was stopped, this young cricketer was driving a Mercedes. When I was young and had the time to watch a game of cricket, most of the players earned about the same amount as a school teacher (ie. not very much.) Now young cricketers are driving Mercedeses. Which led me to the conclusion that the only people not making boatloads of money in this age of bank bailouts and political corruption and Olympic overspending are journalists and writers. As a former journalist and current writer, I find this more than slightly irksome. So I decided to do something about it.

I decided to give away a short story.

That’s right. Just to show that I’m not concerned by the fact that I chose the only two professions to have missed out on the booms and gluts and balloons of the last two decades.

My historical crime novel about the mysterious end of Caravaggio is out in the UK in a couple of weeks. As a taster for A NAME IN BLOOD, I’m making available a short story “Lazarus’s Brush” that’s also about the great Italian artist. The download is FREE until Sunday. It includes the short story, plus a sample chapter from the novel and a personal essay about how I came to write A NAME IN BLOOD. (A bit like all the extra stuff you get on a DVD, but without the “commentary” track. Maybe I’ll do one of those on my Podcast some time….Well, if you listen now to the Podcast, you can already hear me talking about how I wrote A NAME IN BLOOD and reading a chapter.)

In the short story “Lazarus’s Brush,” Caravaggio flees to Sicily with a price on his head. Commissioned to paint the raising of Lazarus, he learns about his fears of the violence that stalks him. But the story also charts a profound change in his artistic technique. It’s an episode I didn’t include in my novel, but it’s a compelling moment in Caravaggio’s life and work nonetheless. Download the US version. Get the UK edition.

The Caravaggio painting at the heart of “Lazarus’s Brush” has just been restored, by the way. You can read more about the restoration here.

The wait for a successor to Amadeus is over.

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