If you like Maclaren-Ross, then you might like these…

A new nonfiction book by Maclaren-Ross's biographer…

The spellbinding tale of hustler Edgar Laplante—the king of Jazz Age con artists—who becomes the victim of his own dangerous game.
Edgar Laplante was a smalltime grifter, an erstwhile vaudeville performer, and an unabashed charmer. But after years of playing thankless gigs and traveling with medicine shows, he decided to undertake the most demanding and bravura performance of his life. In the fallof 1917, Laplante reinvented himself as Chief White Elk: war hero, sports star,civil rights campaigner, Cherokee nation leader—and total fraud.
Under the pretenses of raising money for struggling Native American reservations, Laplante dressed in buckskins and a feathered headdress and traveled throughout the American West, narrowly escaping exposure and arrest each time he left town. When the heat became too much, heembarked upon a lucrative continent-hopping tour that attracted even more enormous crowds, his cons growing in proportion to the adulation of his audience. As he moved through Europe, he spied his biggest mark on the Riviera: a prodigiously rich Hungarian countess, who was instantly smitten with the conman. The countess bankrolled a lavish trip through Italy that made Laplante a darling of the Mussolini regime and a worldwide celebrity, soaring tounimaginable heights on the wings of his lies. But then, at the pinnacle of his improbable success, Laplante’s overreaching threatened to destroy him…
In King Con, Paul Willetts brings this previously untold story to life in all its surprising absurdity, showing us how our tremendous capacity for belief and ourlongstanding obsession with celebrity can make fools of us all—and proving that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

"A story so bizarre—and so compulsively told—that my jaw remained anchored to the floor throughout."—John Preston, author of A Very English Scandal, on which the TV series of the same title was based.

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A new novel by one of Maclaren-Ross's fans

April 1943: four boys playing in Hagley Woods, Worcestershire make a gruesome discovery. Inside an enormous elm tree, there is the body of a woman, her mouth stuffed with a length of cloth. As the case goes cold, mysterious graffiti starts going up across the Midlands: 'Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?'

To Ross Spooner, a police officer working undercover for spiritualist magazine Two Worlds, the messages hold a sinister meaning. He's been on the track of a German spy ring who have left a trail of black magic mayhem across England, and this latest murder bears all the hallmarks of an ancient ritual.

At the same time, Spooner is investigating the case of Helen Duncan, a medium whose messages from the spirit world contain highly classified information. As the establishment joins ranks against Duncan, Spooner must face demons from his own past, uncover the spies hiding beneath the fabric of wartime society — and confront those who suspect that he, too may not be all he seems…

Click here to buy That Old Black Magic

Highly readable first biography of the acclaimed author of best-selling 1940s novels such as The Small Back Room and His Own Executioner. Balchin was also an award-winning film scriptwriter and a successful industrial psychologist, in which guise he designed the famous Black Magic chocolate box. 

Further information about Balchin can be obtained from the Nigel Balchin website.

Click here to buy His Own Executioner. 

Longstanding Maclaren-Ross fan, Keiron Pim, attracted well-deserved and abundant praise for his idiosyncratic exploration of the life of David Litvinoff, a very different brand of London bohemian.

David Litvinoff was one of the great mythic characters of ‘60s London. Flitting between the worlds of music, art and crime, he exerted a hidden influence that helped create the Krays twins’ legend, connected the Rolling Stones with London’s dark side, shaped the plot of classic film Performance – and saw him immortalised in a portrait by Lucian Freud.

Litvinoff’s determination to live without trace means that his life has always eluded biographers, until now. Intent on unravelling the enigma of Litvinoff, Keiron Pim conducted 100 interviews over five years, speaking to Eric Clapton and Marianne Faithfull, James Fox and ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser. The result is an extraordinary feat of research that traces a rogue’s progress amongst aristocrats, gangsters and rock stars from the early Fifties to the Seventies.

Click here to buy Jumpin' Jack Flash

Anyone with an interest in Julian Maclaren-Ross will find plenty to admire in the selection of inter-war London novels reissued as beautiful little hardbacks by London Books. Probably the best-known of these is Gerald Kersh's Night and the City. Other reissues include They Drive By Night and the wonderful It Always Rains on Sunday

Click here to visit the London Books website.

One of the most conspicuous features of Maclaren-Ross’s debut collection of stories, The Stuff To Give The Troops, is its slangy, conversational tone. If you’re even vaguely interested in the evolution of slang, be it military slang or the slang associated with various outposts of bohemia, you’ll be enlightened and amused by Max Décharné’s new book. 

For many years the distinctively suave Décharné was a familiar Soho figure. Besides enjoying a successful music career with Gallon Drunk and the Flaming Stars, he's the author of definitive histories of rockabilly and the King's Road.

Click here to buy Vulgar Tongues.

Inspired by an interest in Julian Maclaren-Ross, the Sohemian Society held its first event in September 2003 at the the London pub most closely associated with him: the Wheatsheaf on Rathbone Place, London. Since then, the Sohemian Society – known for its friendly and irreverent ambience – has hosted dozens of talks, dramatised readings, film shows, and parties featuring the likes of George Melly, Joe Boyd and Iain Sinclair. If you're interested in finding out when it will be staging the next of its frequent events, just click here.   

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