I just finished Arthur & George by Julian Barnes, a remarkable novel about a case of injustice that was investigated in real life by Arthur Conan Doyle.... The information about Conan Doyle and his private life was very interesting. Julian Barnes did his homework. I'm reading Darnley: Consort of Mary Queen of Scots by Caroline Bingham. [Lord] Darnley ... participated in the murder of Mary's Italian secretary and then he was himself disposed of. Scotland in the 16th century was a very dangerous place.
I've discovered a very nice CD by Ayub Ogada called En Mana Kuoyo. It's East African music; it is lovely, beautiful stuff. I think some of his music was used in the recent movie, "The Constant Gardener." Oh, Peter, Paul & Mary. I think they're wonderful. Nostalgia makes me listen to [them]. And I always listen to Mozart. I often play Mozart when I'm writing.
I saw Munich. I found it interesting; I found it very depressing. It's such a bleak conflict, that. I think that [Steven] Spielberg made an attempt to show that there are two sides to that Middle Eastern conflict. I bought a DVD two days ago, The French Connection. Gene Hackman I think is a wonderful actor. I think that was a marvelous performance. Whenever I go to New York I look out for [Hackman's character] 'Popeye' Doyle and hope I see him in his funny porkpie hat keeping the streets safe.
• Alexander McCall Smith will be in Boston April 20 for a talk called 'On Being a Serial Novelist,' part of the Bank of America Celebrity Series. The latest installment of his 'No. 1 Ladies Detective' books hits stores April 18.