How is it Monday already?!? On what is my mum’s birthday (Happy Birthday Mum), I’m delighted to be welcoming back the Teifi Valley Corner back to A Knight’s Reads with the blog tour for Alis Hawkins’ Those Who Know, the third in the Welsh historical crime series.
A massive thank you to the fabulous Emily Glenister at The Dome Press for inviting me to join the blog tour and for my copy of Those Who Know.
Harry Probert-Lloyd has inherited the estate of Glanteifi and appointed his assistant John as under-steward. But his true vocation, to be coroner, is under threat. Against his natural instincts, Harry must campaign if he is to be voted as coroner permanently by the local people and politicking is not his strength.
On the hustings, Harry and John are called to examine the body of Nicholas Rowland, a radical and pioneering schoolteacher whose death may not be the accident it first appeared. What was Rowland’s real relationship with his eccentric patron, Miss Gwatkyn? And why does Harry’s rival for the post of coroner deny knowing him?
Harry’s determination to uncover the truth threatens to undermine both his campaign and his future.
What Did I Think?
Harry has only been coroner 10 weeks… he was appointed in None So Blind so I don’t appear to have missed that much by skipping In Two Minds. But Harry is determined to stay in the position but has to be elected (seriously??! Elections to investigate deaths??!) so he’s got to go in the campaign trail with his trusted aide John (love their rapport) and political man and canpaign manager Minnever (not so keen on him tbh)…
Poor Mr Rowland. He seems the ideal man to be helping a local community but is there more than meets the eye with this man? If something or someone is so perfect, are they too good to be true? Why would someone so highly thought of and invested in the community be murdered where he could be found by the impressionables of the community he is trying to help?!
As John and Harry continue to interview the villagers of Llanddewi Brefi, they leave no stone unturned. But as with any investigation, who can you trust?! I’ll admit, I was flummoxed to get a suspect or even a motive for this one!
If we asked the right questions, we’d find someone with a motive
As the investigation and inquest progress, the right questions are asked of the right people (as you’d expect) which leads to an interesting outcome. But this tale just keeps giving with its twists and turns. Just when I thought our dynamic duo had everything sewn up, someone throws a curve ball (not that they had those in 1850s deepest darkest Wales)….
I loved the little nods to the modern age, Reckitt making arguments for autopsies, the on-going debate about the death penalty. I love to think that this society that Hawkins has created is paving the way that we see the practices that we saw/see in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Returning the Teifi Valley allowed me to escape to a time when things seemed simpler as today’s world rages with a different style of politics and difficulties to those Harry was facing. Harry’s world of murder investigation is a stark difference to that of the modern day crime fiction I normally entertain myself with. The lack of modern technology and developed investigative techniques gives a feel of back to basics which makes the story so different to my usual fare and I personally find it refreshing. I’ll need to fill in my Harry and John journey by reading In Two Minds. I’ve grown quite fond of this duo and I want to see what’s next for them!
Who Is Alis Hawkins?
Alis Hawkins grew up on a dairy farm in Cardiganshire. After attending the local village primary school and Cardigan County Secondary school, she left West Wales to read English at Oxford. Subsequently, she has has done various things with her life, including becoming a speech and language therapist, bringing up two sons, selling burgers, working with homeless people, and helping families to understand their autistic children. And writing. Always. Nonfiction (autism related), plays (commissioned by heritage projects) and, of course, novels.
Alis’s first novel, Testament, was published in 2008 by Macmillan and was translated into several languages. (It has recently been acquired for reissue, along with her medieval trilogy of psychological thrillers by Sapere Books). Her current historical crime series featuring blind investigator Harry Probert-Lloyd and his chippy assistant, John Davies, is set in Cardiganshire in the period immediately after the Rebecca Riots. As a side-effect of setting her series there, instead of making research trips to sunny climes like more foresighted writers, she just drives up the M4 to see her family.
Now living with her partner on the wrong side of the Welsh/English border (though she sneaks back over to work for the National Autistic Society in Monmouthshire) Alis speaks Welsh, collects rucksacks and can’t resist an interesting fact.