He was educated at Merchant Taylors' School and St. John's College, Cambridge. His novels have been translated into 33 languages and are set mainly in Egypt, where he worked for many years as a field archaeologist, notably with the Amarna Royal Tombs Project in the Valley of the Kings. Among other finds, he unearthed the only items of pharaonic jewellery to have been excavated in the Valley since the discovery of Tutankhamun in 1922. As a journalist he was a long-time contributor to the The Big Issue, where he won a Periodical Publishers Association Columnist of the Year Award for his satirical "In The News" column. He has also written for, among others, The Independent, The Guardian, The Evening Standard, The Daily Telegraph, The Spectator, Cosmopolitan and CNN.com. He currently lives in London with his wife and two sons.