Book news and reviews – February 2015

Words by:
Yusef Sayed
Featured in:
February 2015

Margaret Dickinson’s new novel Welcome Home will be released on 12th February and the author will be instore at Waterstones Lincoln High Street to sign copies on 14th February. The novel depicts the separation of family members during the Second World War and the impact that the conflict has on the friendship of two women. Dickinson’s Fleethaven Trilogy has also been re-released by Bello, Pan Macmillan’s digital imprint in a special eBook bundle.

Lincolnshire at War 1914–1918 is a new pamphlet which collects contemporary picture postcards illustrating some of the ways in which the county was affected by the Great War. Published by Reflections of a Bygone Age as part of its series on the First World War, the book is priced £4.95 and is available to order by Tel: 0115 937 4079 or online

The History Press continues to probe obscure and unsavoury aspects of local history, not least with its recent publication Scunthorpe Murders. Writer Douglas Wynn has researched nine cases ranging from 1921 to 1973 and supplements the grisly reports with archive material. For those interested in local crime history.

Published by The History Press,
Price £9.99

Drawing upon more than 100 years’ worth of newspaper articles and excerpts from local history books, Lucy Wood has compiled a calendar in book form, in which each day is marked by one or two historical titbits about Grimsby. Covering incidents of seafaring, criminality, business and agricultural development and an array of characters, this is a curious miscellany.

There are reports of wartime spying, local successes, tragedies and scandals as well as capsules about the fortunes or lack thereof of businesses. Grimsby’s famous fishing heritage is represented in numerous entries. For example, the incident of angry protestors confronting a Grimsby trawler in the Faroes in the 1970s.

Regional news, however, just as often tends towards the banal – tasked as it is with making something out of rather uneventful days. This would explain such a report as that of a mouse interrupting a beauty contest.

This is one for history buffs interested in the area’s past and the moments at which Grimsby has become part of the national picture. Though there are potential pitfalls of pursuing such a format – it is hard to find a truly riveting or historically interesting news item to mark every day on the calendar – it provides a novel way of surveying the history of a town.

Published by Publish Nation, Price £7.99 pbk £1.74 Kindle edition

The third of Cary Smith’s Lincolnshire mysteries, following Dead Spit and Seaside Snatch, finds the Lincoln based author continuing to pursue his own style of detective story with barbed social commentary and little time for the strictures of political correctness.

The plot is driven in large part by Smith’s cynical dialogue exchanges; the author writes with an attention to contemporary politics and popular culture gathered from the broadcast media and his own observations, and his research into local settings give his narratives an up-to-the-minute detail.

Far from the atmospherics of the popular, fog covered industrial lands of Scandinavian crime fiction, the protagonist of this story is, however, called Inga Larrson. Investigating the discovery of a body at a farm in Lincolnshire, and the troubled life of an RAF veteran, Once Bitten sees Smith once again summoning a dark crime drama out of the relatively uneventful and agricultural stretches of the county. Smith’s writing will appeal to readers for whom familiar local colour and a sly, knowing narrative style might come as a breath of fresh air in the overcrowded noir genre.

Published by jrrpublishing, Price £9.50

Author John Reed has collected references to an intriguing figure from his family history, to create a fictional tale set in the eighteenth century that takes the reader from rural Lincolnshire, to London and then on to Italy. Though countless local writers have stuck to fact based family histories, as Reed did in his previous book Ruskington As I Remember It, the decision to create a fictional story using ancestral anecdotes is an imaginative one.

The book follows Nathaniel Thorold, the son of a landowner (and a maternal relative of Reed’s, who inherited the Harmston estate in the eighteenth century). Having accrued gambling debts in London, Thorold flees to Italy and dashes conventions when he begins living with a woman and her elderly husband. With a Dickensian interest in legal arrangements and a traditional plot format of the classical, journeying protagonist seeking pleasure and fortune, the novel sees Reed attempting to muster a lengthy period piece that will be enjoyed by readers with a preference for the picaresque.

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