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Put out the flags!  I have just ordered my paper proof copy of “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat”, and paid extra for it to be sent by rocket-powered carrier pigeon from the US so that it should arrive by the end of the week.  In my mind, that’s it: I will read the proof copy, of course, but my main intention is to check the quality of the printing and paper – the proof-reading has been done already.  That said, over a quarter-century of writing documents, I have learned to accept the Golden Rule of Proofing: no matter how many times you, your friends and even paid professionals proof-read a document, something will always get through.  It’s a bit like weddings: something will always go wrong, and the sooner the bride-to-be accepts this, the happier and more relaxed she will be in the run-up to the big day.  (For me, the caterers forgot to bring coffee cups, so people drank their coffee out of champagne glasses.  And you know what?  No-one gave a hoot.)

Once the proof copy has shown itself to be of excellent quality, I will order my author copies – for me, for family members who do not live in Cambridge and are not online (so can’t buy their own copies), for reviewers who have kindly agreed to have a look, and for the three bookshops who very generously have agreed to stock “Canary” alongside “Fatal Forgery”.  So – barring misfortune such as a fire in the printing works – I’m online to meet that publication date of 31 October.

I’m feeling a bit bereft, as “Canary” has been alongside me for so long now.  But luckily I was listening to the radio the other day, and a magazine item caught my ear.  So now I am fairly sure I know what is going to be the central crime of “Plank 3″…