Review of the reads – July 2021

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July 2021

De Vries
by Christina James
This latest novel in the DI Yates series is a companion piece to Sausage Hall, although those unfamiliar with James’s earlier book will soon grasp the backstory. When the titular Kevan De Vries secretly returns to his ancestral home in the village of Sutterton to uncover the identity of his father, the events of seven years previously, which prompted him to flee the country, are continuing to shape the lives of those left behind.

Set in and around Spalding, James manages to pull a number of story threads together under the theme of digging up the past. Her characters are intent on finding the truth behind recent events – the assault of a school attendance officer and the disappearance of his niece – and cold cases that DI Yates’s superior within the police force is reluctant to rake over. What’s more, the local archaeological society are placed at the centre of much of the action.

James reveals how all levels of society are interlinked – from the local school and taxi rank, to the seasonal workers’ camp and the family estate of the wealthy De Vries – and how family names reveal untold connections. The author has an ear for the local dialect – ‘Ayes’ and ‘could ofs’ – but much of the story is expressed through the unspoken thoughts and the psychological games played between people.

Touching on contemporary issues such as child trafficking and attitudes towards the travellers’ community, James’ stories could not be described as escapist. Rather, she finds a way of putting the real social and geographical character of Lincolnshire past and present at the heart of page-turning crime fiction.

Published by QuoScript, Price £10.99
For your chance to win a copy of De Vries and Sausage Hall, see our competition on p101

Old Place, New Perspectives: A History of the Manor House of Old Sleaford, Lincolnshire
by Old Sleaford Heritage Group
In 2015, a Heritage Lottery funded community dig uncovered artefacts and architectural remains relating to the long history of Old Place, Sleaford. This book has been published to accompany the findings of Old Sleaford Heritage Group, who oversaw the excavations.

While the group’s findings date back as far as the Bronze and Iron Ages, much of the focus is on Old Place’s role during the reign of King Henry VIII, when it was known as Manor Place and was home to the royal courtier and baron, Lord John Hussey.

Following Hussey’s execution for his role in the Lincolnshire Rising and Pilgrimage of Grace the property and lands were owned and tenanted by a succession of families across the social spectrum, including the Carre family and the Herveys: Earls and Marquesses of Bristol.

Despite his central place in the Old Place story, no portrait of Lord Hussey exists today, but the book is nevertheless copiously illustrated with photographs, artist’s drawings, family trees, inventories and maps.

Old Place, New Perspectives not only explores the architectural development of the property through the centuries, with detailed documentation and comparisons with contemporary buildings both in Sleaford and elsewhere; it gives the reader a sense of the varied social lives of those who were resident or just passing.

Old Place was occupied by parliamentarians during the seventeenth-century Civil War and was later used as a Red Cross auxiliary hospital during the First World War. Its role in supporting wounded soldiers was marked on a special plaque that the researchers tell us ended up on eBay, bringing us right up to the present day.

In addition to providing an in-depth look at one local landmark from below ground, Old Place, New Perspectives offers readers a survey of the wide-ranging history of England through the ages.

Published by Old Sleaford Heritage Group, Price £19.50. Available from the Lincolnshire Life webshop. Visit

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