The year is 1904 and Thomas Bexley works for Scotland Yard as a specialist investigator in forensics. He is dispatched to the small village of Dinas Powys in South Wales, where a young girl, Betsan Tilney, has apparently been murdered in a most bizarre way.
He arrives and is almost immediately struck down by a mysterious ailment that brings him down with fevers, headaches and hallucinations. As the story progresses, Bexley becomes an increasingly unreliable narrator as we follow his investigation, which is constantly hampered by what he considers to be ‘backward’ locals. He is assisted by the obstructive head of the local council and the young, bumbling local policeman, who isn’t much help either! They’re enmeshed in parochial superstition and determined to convince Bexley that his illness will hamper his investigation. But he is anxious to pursue the case and discover why Betsan was killed, and by whom.
It’s hard to believe this is Hurcom’s first novel! It ticks all the boxes to attract the toughest and most hardened readers of supernatural fiction. It’s creepy, disturbing, eerie, dark, spine-chilling and macabre in every way that a gothic thriller should be. It will make you uneasy, your skin will crawl and you will not want to switch the lights off! But you also won’t want to put it down!
Hurcom’s descriptions of village life and mentality are spot-on (yes, he currently lives in Dinas Powys – but we’re talking about life back in the early 1900’s). That collective animosity towards outsiders, together with a fear of any suggestion or hint of the unknown is highly evident. The reader can literally feel Bexley’s isolation at the way he’s treated by the locals, and this adds to the overall sense of unease throughout the book.
This is an excellent 4-star debut. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.
Sam Hurcom was born in Dinas Powys, South Wales in 1991. He studied Philosophy at Cardiff University, attaining both an undergraduate and master’s degree. He has since had several short stories published and has written and illustrated a number of children’s books. Sam currently lives in the village he was raised in, close to the woodlands that have always inspired his writing. A SHADOW ON THE LENS is Sam’s debut novel.
Thank you to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Reads for inviting me on this blog tour. Look at what other bloggers are saying about A Shadow on the Lens …