HERODOTUS: The Gnome of Sofia

Against the backdrop of political change in South Eastern Europe, the story of Herodotus – The Gnome of Sofia embraces disgruntled communists, cold war warriors, intrigue, deception and finally murder. The author Patrick Brigham introduces us to Sir Arthur Cumberpot, a man who with an unspectacular diplomatic career - which is swiftly drawn to a close - when he is appointed by the FCO as British Ambassador to Bulgaria. Due to some unforeseen mishaps his wife Annabel is accused of being a spy and sent home to their house in Oxfordshire, while her background is checked by MI5.

Lady Annabel Cumberpot is guilty of nothing, other than being the biological daughter of Jim Kilbey, Britain’s most notorious spy. It seems that a jealous god has sought to visit the sins of the father upon her, but so has everyone else. She is the victim of serendipity, but also of cover ups, the duplication of thin evidence and exaggeration. But she is also heartless, treacherous, self indulgent and without shame. In His book Herodotus – The Gnome of Sofia, Patrick Brigham lampoons the British Diplomatic Corps of the day, and introduces you to the humorous side of diplomacy.


Born in Berkshire England to an old Reading family, having attended an English Public School and a stint at college, the author Patrick Brigham went into real estate. After the economic crash of 1989 he licked his wounds, wrote two books and in 1993 decided to finally abandon London, the UK's casino economy and he moved to Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. As the Editor in Chief of the first English Language news magazine in Sofia - between 1995 and 2000 - and as a journalist, he witnessed the political changes in this once hard core communist country and personally knew most of the political players, including the old Communist Dictator Todor Zhivkov and his successors, Zhelev and Stoyanov.

The natural home of political intrigue, Bolshevism and the conspiracy theory, Bulgaria proved to be quite a challenge, but for many of its citizens the transition was also very painful. Despite this, Patrick Brigham personally managed to survive these political changes and now lives peacefully in Northern Greece, writing mystery novels. A writer for many years, he has recently written four good crime fiction books including, Herodotus – The Gnome of Sofia, Judas Goat – The Kennet Narrow Boat Mystery, Abduction – An Angel over Rimini, and The Dance of Dimitrios. He has also published a play called Judicial Review.

Confirming that the truth is very often stranger than fiction, Eastern Europe has proved to be Patrick Brigham’s inspiration for writing good mystery books. Much of his writing has been influenced by 20 years spent in the Balkans and the plethora of characters in his writing, are redolent of many past communist political intrigues in Bulgaria. But he also goes back to his English roots in his play, which is about money, greed and redemption.


By R.P. Rochford

Without spoiling the plot, 'Herodotus' is something between the plot of an older James Bond movie, complete with bungling foreign spy masters and political intrigue and an introspective Russian novel. There is a colourful cast of characters, a smattering of intrigue and plenty of detailed description to really allow the reader to experience the hopes and aspirations of a somewhat pompous, aspiring, British middle class.
In fact, it is this 'experiencing' which makes this book good. The reader is taken on a journey complete with tastes, smells, scenes and experiences almost reminiscent of a good travel guide. Along the way, we share these experiences with characters whose personal situation all too often hints at some degree of mental illness. Cleverly chosen character names add to the sense of satirical irony throughout the story.
What this book isn't is any kind of suspense novel or thriller. Even the expiration of the main character is handled in such a mundane way that it becomes incidental to the story and the perpetrator is so obvious that there's no real mystery.
'Herodotus' is humour, satire and a witty commentary on both the downward political spiral in certain former Communist countries and the smug, foolish, baseless superiority of the west.

By RPS on June 13, 2016

This is well-written exploration of the changing world following the break-up of the Soviet Union, focusing on a group of characters surrounding the gnome-like British ambassador who has been relegated to Bulgaria. It’s a story of post-Cold-War political intrigue, reminiscent in style of Eric Ambler, with flawed, heartless or bumbling characters satirically portrayed within a well-rendered social context of the times. A highly enjoyable read!

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