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Monday, 29 May 2017

'None so Blind' by Alis Hawkins

Published by Freight Books,
13 April 2017.
ISBN 978-1-911332-11-4

On a farm in West Wales in 1850 a body is discovered when the root of a fallen tree is dug up.  Harry Probert-Lloyd goes to see the body when it is reported to his father who is the local magistrate.  Harry is sure that this is the body of someone who disappeared seven years earlier.  An investigation begins.

The atmosphere of Wales in that era is beautifully shown.  There is no tedious detail, instead the habits and attitudes of that time and place become clear in the course of events.   The mid1840s were turbulent in Wales with the Rebecca Riots against tollgates.  The attempts to replace the  local rough and ready methods of maintaining order and correct moral behaviour by the new police force and new officials  is another part of the background.

In alternating chapters we hear the tale from Harry and from John Davies, a clerk.  Both have memories from the earlier time to which the reader becomes privy.   Harry has returned home from his career as a lawyer because he is going blind.  He has what we call juvenile macular degeneration so he can see from the corners of his eyes.  John has, therefore, to act as his eyes but Harry can easily move, ride, eat etc. using his peripheral vision.

The two investigators can gradually piece together what happened but they need to interview many people and to persuade them to tell the truth.  More importantly each of them must reveal their own experiences seven years earlier.

This is an interesting book about an unusual area with a frightening centre of trouble in the Rebecca riots and it is told by a Welsh writer who has really conveyed to the reader a deep understanding of that era.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
This is Alis's first book about Harry and John but she is already writing a second adventure for them. She has previously written on the medieval period.

Alis Hawkins was born in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire/Monmouthshire border. She grew up on a dairy farm near Newcastle Emlyn – a small town on the Cardiganshire/Carmarthenshire border. She attendedthe local, bilingual village primary school, Cardigan County Comprehensive, and later Corpus Christi College, Oxford and studied English Language and Literature. Alis is a Welsh speaker and now lives in the Forest of Dean.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

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