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Four of Clubs: Murder in the High Sierra

Four of Clubs is an adventure novel and murder mystery set in the Sierra Nevada of California in the 1970s, ’80s and the present day. It’s a tale of lifelong friendship, coming of age, and falling in—then out—of love.

There is one woman, Serena Swallow, and three men, Pete, Don and Ed. She’s rootless. They’re blood brothers, best buds since boyhood. Pete and Don are fraternal twins, rejected by their parents and brought up in separate households.

At Coyote Canyon, a fashionable ski resort in the High Sierra, theirs is not a love triangle. It’s a club of four. Members belong till death do they part.

Passion, lust, betrayal and revenge rage against brotherly love and lifelong loyalty. There are scores to settle and mysteries to unravel. Was the Christmastide avalanche that swept Serena away an accident—or murder? What about Pete and Don falling off a thousand-foot cliff in the same spot more than forty years later?

The last man standing is Edward Dobbs, also known as Ed the Talking Horse. He’s an unlikely detective—gawky, mild-mannered, exceptionally honest. But Ed is going to find the truth of what happened in Coyote Canyon then and now, even if it kills him.

“Four of Clubs takes place in the rocky, steep Sierra of California. As it unfolds, with questions of revenge, love and murder, the book finds itself nearer the terrain of ancient Greek myth. Deep, mysterious and surprising—this is a page-turner.”—Joanna Biggar, author of Melanie’s Song

“A terrifying premise, a beautiful but lethal locale, and a web of erotic entanglements spanning generations and countries…. Four of Clubs casts a spinetingling spell. I couldn’t put it down.”—Rose Solari, author of A Secret Woman


Red Riviera: Murder on the Italian Riviera, the first Daria Vinci Investigation

Its jaws open wide, a firefighting seaplane skims the glittering Gulf of Portofino on Italy’s jagged Ligurian coast, scooping up seawater, unlucky anchovies and a lone swimmer named Joe Gary. The superrich, retired Italian-American spook has mob connections and a dirty political past… Has he been snatched by accident or murdered?

Red Riviera is Commissioner Daria Vinci’s first investigation, a wild roller-coaster ride from the tangled trails of the Cinque Terre to glamorous Portofino and roughneck, roistering Genoa. It’s a Riviera made red by riotous bougainvillea—and the blood spilling from bags stuffed with butchered bodies.

Half-American, Daria Vinci is an outsider, the unlikely rising star of Genoa’s secretive Special Operations Directorate DIGOS. In Red Riviera, she must face down a Fascist police chief and fanatical coup-plotter, the CIA’s creepy local mastermind, a former World War Two Spitfire fighter pilot, and a plucky hundred-year-old marquise whose memory is as long as it is vengeful.

Buy from Amazon:

Publisher page: Alan Squire Publishing

If you like Aurelio Zen, Aimee Leduc, and Inspector Brunetti, you won’t be able to put down this captivating first adventure of Commissioner Daria Vinci 

“A shocking premise, a stunning locale,
and a complex web of history, politics, and crime “


“The most high-spirited, well-informed and exuberantly written thriller I’ve read in a long time––plus it’s funny as all get out. Commissioner Daria Vinci is unstoppable, even impersonating a corpse and almost freezing to death. Unforgettable, a gem!”

Harriet WeltyRochefort, author of Final Transgression

Marvelous! Red Riviera is so well plotted, so sensitive to the present and past Italian history, so deep in characterization. I want to see more of Daria Vinci, Inspector Morbido, and that 100-year-old Marquise! What a cast. A grand, unputdownable read until the lights go out.”

Ronald C. Rosbottom, author of When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation

Red Riviera is wonderfully atmospheric, showcasing author David Downie’s intimate knowledge of all things Italian – the landscapes, cityscapes, and social mores, all drawn with the lightest of touches.”

Anton Gill, author of The Sacred Scroll and City of Gold

“A delightful romp that sparkles like sunshine on the Mediterranean.”

Ellen Crosby, author of The Angels’ Share

“Red Riviera had me in its clutches from the start—and refused to let go. A shocking premise, a stunning locale, and a complex web of history, politics and crime that somehow made perfect sense in the end. The pacing is flawless, the engaging characters leave you curious for more. Another, please!”

Matthew Félix, award-winning author of A Voice Beyond Reason and Porcelain Travels

“If you’re a fan of Italy, mysteries, or well-drawn characters, don’t miss David Downie’s new novel Red Riviera. It sits on my virtual bookshelf right next to Commissario Brunetti (Donna Leon) and Inspector Gamache (Louise Penny), paragons of the genre.”

John Pearce, author of the Eddie Grant series including Treasure of Saint-Lazare and Last Stop: Paris




Roman Roulette: Murder in the Catacombs, the second Daria Vinci Investigation

For Commissioner Daria Vinci, it was supposed to be a night off, attending a benefit concert for the Institute of America in Rome. But little did the wealthy, distinguished guests know that beneath their feet, in the ancient catacombs, a very different kind of gathering was being held. One that would end in murder. In Roman Roulette, the second Daria Vinci investigation, the glamorous and high-principled police commissioner of DIGOS, Italy’s FBI, must investigate what at first seems a simple case of suicide. In doing so, she attracts the attention of her boss, the Questor of the Province of Rome, who has his own reasons for wanting her off the case. Now, Daria Vinci must solve the murder in 36 hours, while risking her career and, possibly, her life.

Pre-order from Amazon:

The Gardener of Eden

A Novel

David Downie

A haunting and luminous novel that explores the dark secrets lurking beneath the stunning natural beauty of a dying timber town.                   

A mysterious beachcomber appears one day on the coastal bluffs near the small town of Carverville, a place whose best days are long behind it. Who is he, and why has he returned after nearly forty years?

Carverville’s prodigal son, James, serendipitously finds work at the Eden Seaside Resort & Cottages, a gentrified motel, but soon finds his homecoming taking a sinister turn when he and a local teenager make a gruesome discovery on the beach. It forces him to reckon with the ghosts of his past—and the dangers of the present.

Rumors, distrust, and conspiracies spread among the townsfolk, all of them seemingly trapped in their claustrophobic and isolated world. But is there something even more sinister at work here than the mere fear of outsiders? In The Gardener of Eden, David Downie weaves an intricate and compelling narrative of redemption, revenge, justice, and love—and the price of secrecy—as a community grapples with its tortured past and frightening future.

David Downie has called Paris and the Marais home since 1986. He has written for over 50 publications worldwide including Bon Appétit, The Los Angeles Times, Town & Country Travel, The San Francisco Chronicle,, and He is the author of the critically acclaimed Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light, three Terroir guides, as well as several cookbooks and crime novels. He lives with his wife, Alison Harris, a photographer, and creates custom tours via his “Paris, Paris Tours” blog site:

Buy it now in print: IndieBound (or, if you must) Amazon Barnes & Noble

Buy it now in ebook: Amazon Barnes & Noble Apple Kobo

Endorsements & Reviews

The Gardener of Eden is a novel of great originality—lively, engaging, unexpected, sharp, and poetic. Downie is a master of the eerie and bizarre, and his character Beverley is one of the great literary creations of the century.” Elizabeth McKenzie, author of The Portable Veblen, longlisted for the National Book Award

“In The Gardener of Eden, David Downie evokes the fierce beauty of America’s northwest coast, peoples it with an assortment of appropriately offbeat characters and plunges them into a mystery that is pitch-perfect for the time and place. A compelling read that is more than a little ominous.” Patricia Bracewell, author of the “Emma of Normandy” Trilogy

“David Downie writes like a poet. Not only will his evocative, lyrical style sweep you up in his story, but his characters will live in your head long after you’ve finished reading.”—Ellen Crosby, author of Harvest of Secrets

SF Bay Area

  • March 9, 4 pm

Book Passage Corte Madera

51 Tamal Vista Blvd.

Corte Madera, CA 94925, 415/927-0960

  • March 11, 6 pm

Book Passage San Francisco, The Ferry Building

1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111

With Left Coast Writers (LCW)


  • Readers’ Books in Sonoma date TBD



Praise for A Taste of Paris: A History of the Parisian Love Affair with Food

“A joyous romp through time . . . The streets and tables of Paris will never be the same and I could not be more grateful.” ―Alice Waters

“Skillfully combines culinary history with reports from some of the city’s most tasteful arrondissements, [Downie] adopts the conceit of a historian’s walking tour, conflating the past with the present in gorgeous style” ―The New York Times Book Review

“A delightful treat for your favorite Francophile foodie . . . an enchanting fluffy read with lots of hints and tips for lovers of Paris and French food.” ―

“Downie tells many tales of fascinating episodes in French history. . . . A gastronomic jaunt through the city that tells how Paris distinguished itself as a world capital of eating.” ―Eleanor Beardsley, NPR’s Paris Correspondent

“Given the French influence over the way we eat and cook (or aspire to do so), the historical details in Downie’s book are fascinating (who knew that Charlemagne loved arugula?), even though it’s unlikely that you’ll be motivated to prepare the recipe of the famous 14th century chefTaillevent for roast peacock or swan.” ―AimeeLee Ball, Martha

“Downie blends exhaustive research and personal experience in this delightful history of one of the culinary capitals of the world…Readers don’t have to be foodies to get the flavor of the French character in this delightful, thoroughly researched culinary history.” Publishers Weekly

“A great companion for any French adventurer as well as historians and food buffs” Library Journal

“A zesty, entertaining romp through the landscape of French food.” Kirkus

“A veritable encyclopedia of everything you ever wanted to know about the Parisians and their victuals. This literary tour de force turns received wisdom on its head, sprinkling the serious subject of what, when, where and how the French have eaten throughout history with many a great moment of humor and irreverence. I loved it!”–Harriet Welty Rochefort, author of Joie de Vivre and French Toast

“Truly epic, encompassing history, flavor, and passion. Bravo for a comprehensive look at eating and dining in Paris!”–David Lebovitz, author of My Paris Kitchen and The Sweet Life in Paris

 “In recent years David Downie has become the go-to-guy for all matters Parisienne. In “A Taste For Paris” he combines his love of history, his affection for his adopted city and his passion for French gastronomy. Anyone who loves Paris (who doesn’t?) and adores French cooking (who can resist it?) will cherish this authoritative book.”– Paula Wolfert, national treasure, author of Unforgettable Paula and The Cooking of Southwest France



A Passion for Paris: Romancisim and Romance in the City of Light, St. Martin’s Press.


“[I]ntrepidly researched, entrancingly descriptive, ruminative, funny, and revealing… provocative… exquisitely written… a gorgeously discursive and affecting homage to Paris’ ‘great Romantics,’ and to the city itself, redolent with art, literature, and longing.”— Donna Seaman, BOOKLIST starred review

“Downie is the consummate guide… encyclopedic knowledge of the city and its magical story. Anyone who loves Paris will adore this joyful book.”—Kirkus Reviews (read the full review below)

“Wickedly humorous… exquisitely told… a must-read for true Paris lovers.”-Harriet Welty Rochefort, author of Joie de Vivre

“Wildly entertaining, operatic… seems to offer up a whole new Paris.”-Penelope Rowlands, author of Paris was Ours

“Wholly original… a love letter, but also a carefully considered précis on an enduring theme. This is the book Downie was clearly meant to write. Bravo!”—Barrie Kerper, author of The Collector Traveler series

“Getting to Paris is easy, but getting into it takes a David Downie. With fork, sturdy shoes and boundless curiosity, Downie probes deeply. And then with wit and enthusiasm, he serves it up masterfully.”—Mort Rosenblum, author of A Goose from Toulouse and Mission to Civilize: The French Way.

Now available in bookstores and on line! We were on book tour nationwide from April-Jule 2015.

Watch David talking on KATU-TV in Portland about A Passion for Paris

About the book:

A unique combination of memoir, history, and travelogue, this is author David Downie’s irreverent quest to uncover why Paris is the world’s most romantic city—and has been for over 150 years.

Abounding in secluded, atmospheric parks, artists’ studios, cafes, restaurants and streets little changed since the 1800s, Paris exudes romance. The art and architecture, the cityscape, riverbanks, and the unparalleled quality of daily life are part of the equation.

But the city’s allure derives equally from hidden sources: querulous inhabitants, a bizarre culture of heroic negativity, and a rich historical past supplying enigmas, pleasures and challenges. Rarely do visitors suspect the glamor and chic and the carefree atmosphere of the City of Light grew from and still feed off the dark fountainheads of riot, rebellion, mayhem and melancholy—and the subversive literature, art and music of the Romantic Age.

Weaving together his own with the lives and loves of Victor Hugo, Georges Sand, Charles Baudelaire, Balzac, Nadar and other great Romantics Downie delights in the city’s secular romantic pilgrimage sites asking , Why Paris, not Venice or Rome—the tap root of “romance”—or Berlin, Vienna and London—where the earliest Romantics built castles-in-the-air and sang odes to nightingales? Read A Passion for Paris: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light and find out.

When ordering please prefer your local Indie bookstore or use, thanks!





Tue, May 12, 5:30 pm, New Dominion bookstore

404 East Main Street , Charlottesville



Thurs, May 14, 6:30 pm, literary dinner at Piedmont Restaurant

401 Foster St, Durham, NC 27701

(919) 683-1213

Possible tie-in or separate event: The Regulator bookstore in Durham:


Friday, May 29, 7 pm, Lafayette Library and Learning Center

Distinguished Speaker Series

3491 Mt. Diablo Boulevard, Lafayette, CA 94549 (925) 385-2280


Monday June 6, 11 am, Bay Area Book Festival,

Berkeley, details TBC

Sat June 6, 4 pm, Book Passage Marin

51 Tamal Vista Blvd. Corte Madera, CA 94925


Tue, June 9, 7:30 pm, Powell’s City of Books

1005 W. Burnside St., Portland, OR 97208, 


Fri, June 12, 7:30 pm, Elliott Bay Book Company

1521 Tenth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122

206-624-6600 or 1-800-962-5311 Toll Free

Sat, June 20, 7 pm (doors open) 7:30 pm (event begins), Munro’s Books

1108 Government Street
Victoria, British Columbia
Canada V8W 1Y2

1 888 243 2464


Red-star review in Booklist:

A Passion for Paris: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light

Downie, David (Author)

Apr 2015. 320 p. St. Martin’s, hardcover, $26.99. (9781250043153). St. Martin’s, e-book,

(9781466841253). 914.

David Downie (Paris to the Pyrenees, 2013) is a Paris transplant, a walking-tour guide steeped in Parisian lore, and an acclaimed writer. In A Passion for Paris, he seeks the source of the city’s celebrated aura of romance in those who fomented the “cultural revolt that turned Paris into the capital of Romanticism.”

Downie begins this intrepidly researched, entrancingly descriptive, ruminative, funny, and revealing inquiry by telling the uncensored story of prodigious Victor Hugo, who basically wrote the manifesto for Romanticism while navigating a truly “racy” love life. Downie also chronicles the complex romantic entanglements of Balzac, Baudelaire, George Sand (“the Great Woman of the Age of Romanticism”), and Henri Murger, whose Scenes of Bohemian Life inspired Puccini’s opera, La Bohème. Canny observations about Paris’ “spirit of freedom,” “permanent sexual revolution,” and embrace of melancholy, which “lies at the root of Romanticism and romance,” are laced throughout this provocative inquiry. With 115 photographs and many exquisitely written passages detailing his visits to historic sites and “romantic enclaves,” Downie presents a gorgeously discursive and affecting homage to Paris’ “great Romantics,” and to the city itself, redolent with art, literature, and longing.— Donna Seaman


From Kirkus Reviews: “Join Downie (Paris to the Pyrenees: A Skeptic Pilgrim Walks the Way of St. James, 2013, etc.) for a top-notch walking tour of Paris.In search of what makes Paris romantic, the author takes us to the 19th century. Early on, he notes that Paris may be romantic just because writers, artists and musicians say it is. But romanticism is not just literary or artistic; it’s also political. Throughout the 1800s, there was a host of activists who mocked the status quo. Victor Hugo based his play Hernani, about adulterous lovers and their unfortunate end, on true life, and as Paris audiences often did, they rioted, opening the war between romanticism and classicists. Throughout the book, the author shares his love of places that he has explored for 30 years. He recounts the lives and loves of Hugo, Dumas, Sand, Delacroix and so many others in the romantic shrines of the Marais, Luxembourg Gardens and the Arsenal Library. Literature of this age reflected the essence of romanticism, where chronology and logical plots were reactionary. The French are complex, ambiguous and contradictory by nature, and they are proud of their weaknesses and faults. Understanding the romantics requires understanding Paris, and searching for the real Paris is part of the journey. On that journey, Downie is the consummate guide. Reflecting on Foucault’s pendulum, the author writes, “the real Paris is of the mind, so it doesn’t exist and can’t age.” The author’s encyclopedic knowledge of the city and its artists grants him a mystical gift of access: doors left ajar and carriage gates left open foster his search for the city’s magical story. Anyone who loves Paris will adore this joyful book. Readers visiting the city are advised to take it with them to discover countless new experiences.

“Paris has been cherished, admired, analyzed for centuries, yet in his wildly entertaining, operatic A Passion for Paris, David Downie seems to offer up a whole new place. Writing with an engaging informality, he delves into this most romantic of cities, then and now, focusing particularly on the Romantic Age and its people. . . . Whether the author is leading us into Flaubert’s study or onto the terrace of today’s Deux Magots, there’s a rare excitement in the air—as if Puccini’s Bohemians were united in song, somewhere off stage.” —Penelope Rowlands, author of Paris Was Ours


“Victor Hugo, Adèle and Juliette, Saint-Beuve, Nadar, George Sand and a host of other great figures of French history come alive in David Downie’s compelling and often wickedly humorous investigation of romance and romanticism in the City of Light. Most travelers agree that Paris is by far the most romantic city in the world but thanks to Downie’s extensive research, passionate sleuthing and inspired imagination, they’ll now know why. This unusual and exquisitely told tale of French romanticism is a must-read for true Paris lovers.” —Harriet Welty Rochefort, author of French Toast and Joie de Vivre


“David Downie’s wholly original new book is for true Francophiles in general and serious admirers of Paris in particular — there is so much packed into these pages!   Even those with an encyclopedic knowledge of Paris will discover a new quartier (like the 9th arrondissement’s Nouvelle Athènes neighborhood and its Musée de la Vie Romantique that Downie refers to as “the most only-in-Paris of the uniquely Parisian places I know”) or a little-known fact (most of the townhouses on the quai Voltaire in the 7th arrondissement are still standing and still sought after, “a testament to both the sturdiness of 17th century construction and the apparent idiosyncratic Parisian reluctance to embrace radical urban change”).  A Passion for Paris is a love letter of sorts but it’s also a thoughtful, carefully considered précis on an enduring theme.  Downie’s other books on France, and Italy, are rightly acclaimed; but this is the book Downie was clearly meant to write.  Bravo!”—Barrie Kerper, author of The Collector Traveler series


Other Recent Releases

November  2013 saw the release of my thriller Paris City of Night as an e-book by Pegasus Classics, plus the long-awaited audio version of Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light, the perennial little book of essays that could.

My latest adventure tale-cum-travel memoir Paris to the Pyrenees: A Skeptic Pilgrim Walks the Way of Saint James hit bookshelves in April 2013–and we hit the road to promote it, on both coasts. The first printing sold out in under two weeks! The e-book reached number 5 all-told on for all e-books, and was number 1 in half a dozen categories.

“An entertaining read… fabulous company!”—Jacki Lyden, NPR All Things Considered


Listen to an interview about the book with NPR radio host extraordinaire Jacki Lyden on Weekend Edition Sunday.

Listen to David while he’s walking across Paris on the pilgrimage route with NPR’s Paris correspondent Eleanor Beardsley.

Watch David interviewed on KATU-TV in Portland.

Listen to David talking to Sheila Hamilton of “Speaking Freely” on KINK FM in Portland.


Watch a video about Paris to the Pyrenees


The audio book version of Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light also came out in 2013. The paperback was reprinted yet again, bringing the number of printings to ten or perhaps eleven–I have lost count. Not bad for this “little” book of essays about Paris that travel writing legend Jan Morris called “Perhaps the most evocative book about Paris since A Moveable Feast.”

History, mystery, lore department: 2013 was also the year my history app of Paris made its debut on your iPhone, iPad or other hand-held device: David Downie’s Paris Timeline.


Books, the background

My thirteen nonfiction books include Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light. Called “Perhaps the most evocative American book about Paris since A Moveable Feast,” by travel-writing legend Jan Morris, it went through multiple printings in its first edition and was thoroughly updated, expanded, redesigned and reissued in 2011 by Broadway Books/Random House. Pleasant surprise: it’s an evergreen and continues to sell and sell. At last report it was joyously exiting its ninth printing: the tenth is underway. The little book that could…

My three Food Wine guidebooks continue to leap off bookstore shelves after garnering critical acclaim and starred reviews in prestigious venues such as Publishers Weekly. Stay tuned: they will soon be available as eb00ks and/or apps, starting with Rome.

Oldie but goodie department: Cooking the Roman Way was selected as among the best cookbooks of the year by The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune and The San Francisco Chronicle and has been reissued as an ebook.

My thriller Paris City of Night provides thrills and chills set against an unforgettable backdrop: Paris. It will be available as an e-book as of November, 2013.

Details, details… keep reading!


Paris to the Pyrenees: A Skeptic Pilgrim Walks the way of Saint James. Part adventure story, part cultural history the author of Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light explores the phenomenon of pilgrimage along the age-old Way of Saint James in France.

The story:

Driven by curiosity, wanderlust, and health crises David Downie and his wife Alison Harris set out from Paris to walk across France to the Pyrenees. Starting on the Rue Saint-Jacques then trekking 750 miles south to Roncesvalles (Spain) via Burgundy, their eccentric route took 72 days on Roman roads and pilgrimage paths—a 1,100-year-old network of trails leading to the sanctuary of Saint James the Greater. It is best known as El Camino de Santiago de Compostela–“The Way” for short.

The object of any pilgrimage is an inward journey manifested in a long, reflective walk. For Downie and Harris, the inward journey met the outer one: a combination of self-discovery and physical regeneration. More than 200,000 pilgrims take the highly commercialized Spanish route annually, but few cross France. Downie had a goal: to go from Paris to the Pyrenees on age-old trails, making a secular pilgrimage in his own maverick way. Paris to the Pyrenees features 32 pages of color photographs by noted photographer Alison Harris.


Praise for Paris to the Pyrenees:

“… evocative and moving… Downie’s quest is unconventional in tone and spirit as well as route. A lively wordsmith… Downie brings a deep and impassioned knowledge of French history, culture, and language to this pilgrimage. He also brings something more, a longing that he himself can’t pin down at the beginning… they encounter a memorable succession of taciturn, deep-rooted local farmers and gregarious, transplanted-from-Paris innkeepers. They also encounter the multi-layered, interweaving pathways of French history, commerce, religion, and spirituality—and manage to tuck in a few sumptuous celebrations of French food and wine, too. The result is an extraordinary account that illuminates France past and present and casts a light on something even greater: the truth that, however we choose to label our journey, we are all pilgrims on a common quest, to answer why we wander life’s question-paved path.” (National Geographic TripLit pick) Read the whole review

“In the tradition of Patrick Leigh Fermor, David Downie takes off on foot. Such a rigorous, slow journey—the polar opposite of airport-to-airport travel—gives him the gift of time, and the chance to absorb, taste, and experience the places he sees. Downie’s adroit, learned, and ambitious book re-invigorates my sense of travel, taking me back to the happy knowledge that the world is still large, and history unfathomably deep.”—Frances Mayes

“A great writer and a very interesting trail, what more could you want?”—James Martin, Europe Travel

“Profound. A witty and intelligent spin on the spiritual-journey motif.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Bristling with knowledge and the insights of good fiction, Downie takes you on a trip that is as much a compelling intellectual journey as it is a rich revelation of place. A hard book to put down.”—G. Y. Dryansky, Contributing Editor, Condé-Nast Traveler and author of Coquilles, Calva, and Crème

“Richly textured, meticulously detailed, a compelling, picaresque narrative of adventures on the road and a sophisticated meditation on the past, present and future of France.”—Sandra M. Gilbert, emeritus professor of English, the Universities of California and author of Kissing the Bread

“Brilliant, witty and stylish.”—Anton Gill, internationally bestselling author of The Sacred Scroll

“A wonderful book: historically, culturally and spiritually fascinating, refreshingly honest without being self-aggrandizing, full of humor and sharp observation of the people and the landscape. Downie is a great companion on the road.”—Imogen Robertson, author of the bestselling Instruments of Darkness

“David Downie’s pilgrimage/anti-pilgrimage has two things no one else does. One is his inimitable wit. The other: he travels not just in space, but in time, creating constant delightful surprise and reassuring familiarity. An atheist who starts the Way of Saint James necessarily sees the world with a certain irony. One who finishes the trail from Paris to the Spanish border won’t let that irony consume him. It is the conversation between the two that makes this such a special book.”Andrew Riggsby, Professor of Classics and of Art History, The University of Texas at Austin)


“Richly illustrated with Alison Harris’s color photographs, it is not only a fascinating journey through France on foot, with illuminating glimpses into French history from prehistoric times to the present. Downie also shares his idiosyncratic observations and provocative musings about connections between the Roman and American empires, the character of Francois Mitterrand, and the shadow of both Nazi collaboration and the French Resistance. It is also an intimate, personal journey, the author sharing his candid ruminations. There are moments of comedy, many grins and even some laugh-out-loud moments. A word of advice? Don’t peek! Every page of this book is worth reading, and in order to understand the ending, you’ll have to have been there for the whole journey.”—Janet Hulstrand, (read the whole review)

I have found both Paris, Paris AND Paris to the Pyrenees to be so extraordinary that I would be depriving others of these spectacular tomes if I failed to share my simple observations. Your wife’s photos in both of these books and in The Patisseries of Paris are beyond compare! I only hope that planners, such as myself, are able to find and savor these books before, during and after their visits to Paris. If I didn’t know I am headed there, I would be heartbroken after opening each of these books and falling inside!”Deb Scott, writer, on


Buy from my favorite indie booksellers: Book Passage, Politics & Prose, McNally-Jackson, Elliott Bay Books, Powell’s Books, University Book Store, Mrs. Dalloway’s, Kepler’s and others affiliated with the Indie-Bound movement. Also available from

Listen to an interview about the book with Jacki Lyden:

Listen to David while he’s walking across Paris on the pilgrimage route with NPR’s Paris correspondent Eleanor Beardsley.



paris paris journey into the city of light



The analog version of Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light is now into its tenth or 11th printing (this is the book’s second edition) part of the “Armchair Traveler” series at Broadway Books/Random House). An audio book/CD version is also available.



Divided into three parts this book of entertaining yet enlightening essays about the world’s favorite city brings alive Paris Places, Paris People and Paris Phenomena—the quintessential elements that make Paris, Paris (or Paris, Paris). A handsomely designed paperback it features over 30 striking B&W photographs of Paris by Alison Harris and a foreword by acclaimed author Diane Johnson.

Legendary travel writer Jan Morris calls Paris, Paris “Perhaps the most evocative American book about Paris since A Moveable Feast.” The San Francisco Chronicle says it’s “beautifully written and refreshingly original.”

The Chicago Tribune notes that “The delightful and insightful essays in “Paris, Paris” meld history, atmosphere and observations on Paris places, Paris people and Paris phenomena.” Departures magazine thinks Paris, Paris “gives fresh poetic insight into the city.” Order now

More praise for Paris, Paris: Mavis Gallant, among the greatest short story writers in the English language, has remarked that “Downie lives in Paris, like wine in a glass. Paris, Paris is his quirky, personal, independent view of the city.”

As Diane Johnson (of Le Divorce) writes in her foreword to the book, “Downie has a delightful sensibility and the most delighted eye, the most perseverance, and the perfect French, bien sûr, and these allow him to uncover secrets. Uncover them he has, the secrets of this fascinating city, and not the ones you’ll read anywhere else… These beautiful [photographic] studies by Alison Harris extend th[e] literature [of photography] with a powerful formal talent. Her camera’s loving dissection of details that the busy traveler might not notice for himself, makes of this book a splendid object in itself, a sort of bibliophilic gem.”

And this from the master-storyteller Michael Ondaatje, celebrated for his novel The English Patient: “Like the guide who leads us through The Hermitage and its history in Sokurov’s ‘Russian Ark’, David Downie is the master of educated curiosity. With him we discover Paris, a seemingly public city that is, in fact, full of secrets—great lives, lives wasted on the bizarre; forgotten artisans; lost graves (lost till now); the papillons nocturnes; and the poinçonneur des Lilas. I have walked some of the city’s streets with him, and reading this book is just as tactile an experience.”

Muckraking journalist and opinionated author Mort Rosenblum, former editor of the International Herald Tribune, quips “When good Americans die, Oscar Wilde wrote, they go to Paris. Don’t wait that long. David Downie’s new book reflects the city and its light with such power that its title says it twice. Paris, Paris shimmers with wit and mesmerizes with wisdom. With splendid photographs by Alison Harris, it is as the French would say un must.”


Food Wine Rome



food wine rome


“I love The Terroir Guides. They give me everything I want. They’re a tactile pleasure, compact, meaty. They’re lovely to look at, elegantly laid out, mutedly and tastefully colored… positively overflowing with the Who, What, Where and How even an intrepidly independent traveler should know…The Little Bookroom has a knack for putting guidebooks into print that are as useful as they are beautiful.” —Wine News


Food Wine Rome is a tightly focused guidebook and traveler’s companion to the culinary delights of Rome. For each neighborhood, listings are in three categories: 1) dining: restaurants, trattorie, osterie; 2) gourmet shopping: bakeries, markets, salami makers, cheese mongers, and more; 3) wine: shops and wine bars. A dozen sidebars add entertaining and informative bits of city lore, culture, customs, quotes, and anecdotes to bring alive the city’s historic culinary richness: the Roman love affair with artichokes; the watermelon festival held for years on August 24, when giant, ripe watermelons would be released into the river upstream and Roman kids would dive into the river to grab them; Lucullus’ Kitchen Garden; the Cacio e Pepe Family of Pastas; the cult of the strawberries of Nemi (one of whose devotees was Caligula); Papal cuisine; the Renaissance of Rome’s wines; Holy Water and the Aqueducts; Spring Fever (lamb, favas, artichokes, zucchini flowers); and dozens more. A glossary of essential Roman/Italian food terms helps make shopping, marketing, and eating fun and rewarding. It is illustrated with scores of atmospheric photographs by Alison Harris.

“…an invaluable key to the city’s authentic quaffs and cuisines. Eschewing eateries that are likely to be visited by the typical bus-group turisti, Downie walks readers through bountiful food markets, into artisanal-food shops and to the front doors of Rome’s temples of food and drink. The reviews in this highly informative restaurant guide, accompanied by Alison Harris’s photographs, also celebrate the people, customs and tastes that tempt so many travelers to eat as discriminating Romans do.”–Town & Country

Critically acclaimed, Food Wine Rome, Food Wine Burgundy, Food Wine Italian Riviera & Genoa, Quiet Corners of Rome, and Enchanted Liguria are available on line and at bookstores everywhere.



Quiet Corners of Rome




Quiet Corners of Rome, published by the Little Bookroom, is a lavishly illustrated volume with photography by Alison Harris. It features over 50 of the Eternal City’s secret, silent spots: courtyards where mossy fountains splash; landscaped staircases clinging to Rome’s Seven Hills; cool, quiet cloisters; atmospheric ruins dating to the days of Caesar; gorgeous gardens scented by boxwood and bay trees. Some of Rome’s quiet corners boast breathtaking views while others are filled with archaeological or architectural details, from crumbling aqueducts or majestic stone archways, to Renaissance garden follies, frescoed walls, and baroque fountains.
Read more.


Food Wine Burgundy



Food Wine Burgundy: As Library Journal puts it in a starred review, “Downie… calls readers to arms by celebrating the terroir (literally “terrain”) and how it, along with the particular climates, has created culinary jewels for millennia—snails, Charolais beef, chèvre, honey, truffles, and grand cru pinot noirs and chardonnays. He easily demystifies the processes of wine making and the distinction and variety of Burgundy’s regional productions… VERDICT: Beautifully depicted, handily sized, and substantially sourced for contact info and seasonal hours… a regional standard for oenophiles and the palatably enchanted traveler. Highly recommended.”

The Chicago Tribune appears to agree: “This marvelous book’s content and photographs are lovely to look at but also full of substance. Author David Downie encourages readers to appreciate a slower, more meditative lifestyle based on a culture with deep roots that respects the soil and the seasons’ turnings. Indeed, Downie insists that “depth” is the key to understanding Burgundy itself; each of its subregions has a distinctive history and character that, in turn, are reflected in its food and wine….”

“For years now, The Little Bookroom has been publishing out-of-the-ordinary travel guides—books that encourage travelers to slow down, to appreciate details, to focus in a thoughtful way on what makes each destination unique. The publisher’s new series, the Terroir Guides, applies these concepts to food and wine, focusing not on an entire country, but on specific regions or cities. The result is a real celebration of the sense of place, and the first volume on David Downie’s Food Wine Burgundy, proves that the concept works beautifully…What follows is a feast of hearty Burgundian food and luscious wines, starting with a section on local specialties…The book is packed with insider’s addresses, including small, family-run bistrots, country inns, cheese shops and bakeries that seldom make it into other guidebooks. The descriptions, often enlivened by Downie’s wry sense of humor, are delightful to read…Wine lovers will appreciate the invaluable information on wineries open to he public, especially those open without appointment…The volume is lavishly illustrated with Alison Harris’s gorgeous color photographs…I wish I’d had Downie’s guide with me on my past trips to Burgundy. And judging from the many margin marks, underlinings and stars that I penciled through the volume, it will certainly accompany me on the next.”—Vivian Thomas, France Today



Downie’s thriller, Paris City of Night provides thrills and chills. It’s available on line as an e-book, published by Pegasus Classics. To purchase your copy:

Paris City of Night: the background.

Do you have a favorite thriller? A book, movie or episode from a TV show that still makes you shudder or sweat decades after you first read or saw it? Hitchcock’s The Thirty-Nine Steps or Strangers on a Train, do that to me. I grew up with Hitchcock on the brain, watching his films over and over, and reading Hammett, Chandler and a dozen other entertaining but subversively serious writers of genre fiction, including the great Graham Greene (The Third Man!). My favorite books in the genre are psychological and political thrillers, where the crime and violence play minor roles, serving primarily to feed a mounting tension. Paris City of Night aspires to that ideal.

“A fast-moving, atmospheric thriller. Best to start reading this one early in the evening… unless, that is, you don’t mind losing a night’s sleep!” —David Hunt, best-selling author of The Magician’s Tale

“Un-put-down-able—a real page-turner. No one should miss this.” —Anton Gill, author of the world best-selling series The Egyptian Mysteries

“A wild ride through the dark side of Paris with a writer who knows the city’s streets and their secrets…” —Diane Johnson

“Stands out brightly above the rest for originality, ingenuity, local color and unputdownableness.”—Barbara Bray


Paris City of Night: the plot

Paris is alluring and seductive, but by no means benign, as Jay Grant well knows. Orange alerts make people trigger-happy. Red and black alerts are worse. They transform the City of Light into a hellish City of Night…

June 18, 1950: The blurry image of escaping Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann wells up in a CIA darkroom in pre-dawn Paris.

December 26, 2007: Madeleine Adelaïde de Lafayette, celebrated Résistance and Free French hero, former CIA deputy chief of station in Paris, is found dead in her mansion fronting the Eiffel Tower. Few know she was a key player in the misguided Allied effort to fight Communism by smuggling Nazis to freedom. So was William Grant, Madeleine’s favorite operative, also recently deceased.

December 28, 2007: As the countdown to New Year’s Eve flashes from the top of the Eiffel Tower, vintage photography and Daguerreotype expert Jay Grant, “son of a spook,” races to piece together a deadly picture-puzzle. Why were Madeleine and his father William murdered——and whose side is the CIA really on? Someone is trying to kill Jay before he can crack a code embedded on a set of Daguerreotype plates and flush out terrorists plotting to attack Paris. Pursuing Jay through the menacingly dark City of Light are a shadowy recycled Cold Warrior, a sexy Homeland Security officer, and his father William’s aged, fanatic former colleague, a man whose mission is no longer beating the Commies but battling radical Islam, even if it means destroying parts of the city he loves…

“A wild ride through the dark side of Paris.”—Diane Johnson

Order your copy of Paris City of Night now!



Click on the image above or on this link to listen to a snippet from Paris City of Night read by Peter de Niverville






Food Wine Italian Riviera & Genoa takes you to the best restaurants and trattorias, the best specialty food shops, the best open markets, the best delis, cheese mongers, chocolate makers and other food artisans scattered across the gorgeous Liguria region on Northern Italy.

“Outside of general guidebooks to Italy, few individual regions have had single volumes dedicated to their gastronomy, and this, one of a series of ‘Terroir Guides,’ is both thorough in its listings of places to eat and drink, from ristoranti and focaccerie to pasticcerie and chocolate shops, as it is a well-written depiction of what makes Liguria so very special—and heretofore underrated—as a territory for wonderful food and wine, with its rippling, seafood-rich coastline, its famous basil that goes into making pesto, and its ties to the cooking of Southern France. Excellent, evocative photos too.”—John Mariani, author of The Italian American Cookbook and The Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink


Cooking the Roman Way: Authentic Recipes from the Home Cooks and Trattorias of Rome is now available as an e-book! Selected as among the best cookbooks of the year by The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune and The San Francisco Chronicle, Cooking the Roman Way has been described in a red-star review in Publishers Weekly as a “wonderfully complete culinary tour of the Eternal City” and by famed Rome specialty food guru Claudio Volpetti as “my Bible of Roman food.”

“…explores the streets and alleys of Rome, gathering recipes from trattoria chefs, home cooks, and even his Roman-born mother in this wonderfully complete culinary tour of the Eternal City…. highlights each recipe with history and anecdotes…. beautifully and evocatively captured the cuisine of one of the world’s best-known cities.”—Publishers Weekly

“First-century Roman gourmet and author Apicius undoubtedly would be pleased with Cooking the Roman Way…. Strolling through these pages, you’ll find many recipes you’ll want to try… Downie also has packed Cooking the Roman Way with fascinating historical notes.”—Peter D. Franklin, Universal Press Syndicate

“… a literate cookbook, filled with stories and classic recipes collected from authentic sources. Harris’ real photographs, vibrant color snapshots of the people who contributed recipes, places and dishes, illustrate the text… I read Cooking the Roman Way from cover to cover in a couple of hours and learned not only how to make some of my very favorite dishes in the world, but a culinary history of Rome, too…”—Patricia Unterman, San Francisco Examiner

“The dazzle factor is off the chart… comments were of amazement at the simplicity and purity of flavors. This type of cooking — and thinking — is what makes this book worthwhile. Downie shares how the Italians in Rome cook and eat, not how we have interpreted Italian food. If you want to gain some understanding about how the Roman respect for ingredients translates into a refined yet down-to-earth cuisine — or you just want to know how fettuccine alfredo is actually made — then get this book.”—Hsiao-Ching Chou, Seattle Post Intelligencer

“The melange of travel notes, history and sense of place and plate that Downie dishes up is enticing, whether you adore the Eternal City or just daydream about going – and eating – there… Photographs by his wife and collaborator Alison Harris add to the appeal…” —San Francisco Chronicle

“… transported me to a place I love: Italy.”—Steven Petusevsky (Winner, “Top-ten gift cookbooks of the year”), Florida Sun-Sentinel

“… delves into the trattorias of Rome and comes up with remarkable recipes.”—Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven, The Boston Globe (Winner, Top cookbooks of the year)

“…avoids the glib, glossy prose that colors so many hymns to great cities. The lovely photographs of food raw and cooked are not glossy either… a memorable recording of how intently dedicated are Romans to food and eating…..”—William Rice, Chicago Tribune (Winner, Top-12 cookbooks of the year)

“…. way more than a cookbook… a veritable tour guide to so much of what makes Rome special … not only recipes, but stories on vendors and foodstuffs and the everyday people that give the city its full flavor, plus some fascinating history on different aspects of this singular cuisine…. passion oozes from every word. He also has a whimsical side… The recipes are the real deal, culled from the original sources…”—Bill Ward, Minneapolis Star Tribune



Enchanted Liguria: A Celebration of the Culture, Lifestyle and Food of the Italian Riviera is considered the classic reference book to the Liguria region of Italy, better known as the Italian Riviera.

To travelers, the Italian Riviera and its famous villages—Portofino, the Cinque Terre—have meant “vacation,” “sea” and “sun” for more than a century. To food lovers everywhere its culinary triumphs such as pesto, focaccia and ravioli are icons of Italian cooking. Liguria is known as well for the trompe-l’oeil that decorates it architecture inside and out, and for its crafts—furniture-making, boat-building and lace-weaving among others, for which it has been renowned for centuries.

This gorgeous book is devoted to Liguria, Italy’s picturesque and culturally rich region that boasts a breathtaking Mediterranean seacoast and its mountainous “backyard.” Downie’s lively account of the fascinating history and lifestyle is matched by Harris’s photographs of Liguria’s dramatic locales, from Camogli, the “saltiest, most piratical town” on the Mediterranean, to the interior, a vast, vertical garden dotted with towns carved from the rugged landscape. Enchanted Liguria also includes rarely photographed interiors of grand aristocratic villas and elegant houses, some of which have been family homes since before the unification of Italy.

Thirty recipes from the region’s best chefs reflect the taste of Liguria in a celebration of herbs, marvelous pastas, breads and seafood. The appendix is a guide to museums, villas, specialty food stores and workshops. Enchanted Liguria is a practical, essential and beautiful tribute.

“It’s the next best thing to being in Italy.”—William Murray, The New Yorker contributor and author of Italy, the Fatal Gift

“For good reason, the region has been called “Enchanted Liguria” by authors David Downie and Alison Harris. In their lavishly illustrated book (Rizzoli, 1997), this husband-and-wife team have vividly captured the culture, history, and daily life of this delightful place in pictures and words.”—Lorna Sass, Los Angeles Times syndicate

“… investigates the unique and often misunderstood character of Liguria and how that is reflected in its architecture, lifestyle and cuisine. It’s a fascinating but unromanticized view of an insular people…”—Daniel Young, New York Daily News

“Beautifully presented… closes the way all fine things Italian must — with a good meal, and Downie’s flourish of fine wine and recipes leaves readers with a sense of Liguria that is as satisfyingly complete as it is mouthwateringly inviting.”—San Francisco Sunday Examiner

“Complete with authentic recipes, stunning photography by Alison Harris, and a detailed guide to cultural and epicurean hot spots, the 208-page book captures the spirit and customs of the hidden hilltop villages and enticing Riviera beaches of northwest Italy’s Liguria region.”—Appellation Magazine

Enchanted Liguria is coming soon as an e-book!


David Downie has contributed chapters to many travel and food anthologies among them:



For other books by David Downie please visit the author’s Author’s Page






Paris to the Pyrenees: A Skeptic Pilgrim Walks the Way of Saint James

Book Tour Schedule Spring 2013


Press contact: Jessica Case, Pegasus Books, Senior Editor

80 Broad Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10004 212-504-2924


April 2013


April 15

7 PM

Politics and Prose

5015 Connecticut Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20008

800-722-0790, 202-364-1919

Contact: Sarah Baline


April 22

7 PM

McNally Jackson

52 Prince Street (between Lafayette & Mulberry)

New York City, NY 10012

(212) 274-1160

In conversation with Stephane Kirkland, architect and historian, author of Paris Reborn


April 23

Literary lunch: noon

La Boite en Bois

75 West 68th Street
New York, NY 10023
Tel: (212) 874-2705

Angela Barbuti.

On the menu: “Everyone buys a ticket which includes a 3-course lunch and copy of the book. David reads an excerpt and discusses the book for 20 minutes and then after lunch, he signs the books.”



April 27

1 pm

Kings County Library System

Lake Hills Library

15590 Lake Hills Blvd.,

Bellevue, 98007, WA

+1 425-450-1760, 425-450-1765

contacts: Laurel Steiner, Amber Slaven, adult services librarian; Coordinator for the reading: Lisa Fraser,


April 28

3 pm

The Elliott Bay Book Company

Downtown Seattle

1521 Tenth Avenue

Seattle WA 98122

(206) 624-6600 Toll Free 1-800-962-5311

Contact: Rick Simonson



May 2013



May 1

7:30 PM

Powell’s City of Books

1005 W Burnside

Portland, OR 97209

Phone: 503-228-4651, 800 878 7323

Contact: Jeremy Garber – events coordinator



May 8

6 pm, in conversation with Sandra Gilbert

Book Passage Ferry Building

San Francisco, California 94118

tel: 415- 835 1020

Contact: Karen West | Director of Events & Conferences | 415.927.0960 x238


May 9

7:30 PM

Kepler’s Books

1010 El Camino Real

Menlo Park, CA 94025


Contact: Pam Grange


May 11

2 pm, slide show, book presentation by Alison Harris: Paris in Love

4 pm, in conversation with Don George

Book Passage Corte Madera

51 Tamal Vista Blvd

Corte Madera,California 94925

tel: 415 927 0960


Buy from Politics & Prose

Buy from McNally-Jackson

Buy from Elliott Bay Books

Buy from Powell’s

Buy from Book Passage

Buy from Kepler’s

Buy from IndieBound

IndieBound store-finder


Red Riviera had me in its clutches from the start – and refused to let go. I gasped. I laughed out loud. And that was just the first chapter! A shocking premise, a stunning locale, and a complex web of history politics and crime.

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