MUCH AS I hate to throw a spanner in the elegant detective work of your reviewer, Michael Dibdin ('James II goes to Siena', Review, 21 February), I think I ought to in the interests of truth. In his review of my novel, In a Hotel Garden, Dibdin asserts that 'the presiding genius' of the novel is Henry James and that I 'make no secret of this: Ben's holiday reading is The Ambassadors, while the generating anecdote is clearly modelled on Daisy Miller and the explicit symbolism on 'The Figure in the Carpet' '.
I have never read Daisy Miller; the 'generating anecdote' was a transformation of something told me many years ago. Ben's holiday reading was, until the proof stage, War and Peace. I remember rather liking 'The Figure in the Carpet' when I read it years ago, though I did find it, like all of James, rather heavy-handed. Perhaps the moral of this is that writers of good detective stories do not necessarily make good detectives themselves.
Lewes, East Sussex