My Review of None so Blind (The Harry Probert-Lloyd Mysteries) by Alis Hawkins #TuesdayBookBlog

Book Description:

West Wales, 1850. When an old tree root is dug up, the remains of a young woman are found. Harry Probert-Lloyd, a barrister forced home from London by encroaching blindness, has been dreading this discovery. He knows exactly whose bones they are. 

Working with his clerk, John Davies, Harry is determined to expose the guilty. But the investigation turns up more questions than answers. Questions that centre around three names. Rebecca, the faceless leader of an angry mob who terrorise those they hate. Nathaniel Howell, a rabble-rousing chapel minister preaching a revolutionary gospel. And David Thomas, an ominous name with echoes from Harry's past. 

Is it Rebecca who is intent on ending Harry and John's enquiry? Why did Nathaniel Howell disappear when Rebecca's insurrection was at its height? And can Harry keep the secrets of his own past safely buried? 

The search for the truth will prove costly. But will Harry and John be the ones to pay the highest price?

 My Review:

 I looked forward to this book dropping through the letter box.
It landed in the porch with a thud. This is one big tome. But I was intrigued by the title and I love the cover so, undaunted I decided to read the first couple of chapters while I had ten minutes to spare. Two hours later I was still reading; the washing was still waiting to go into the machine, I’d forgotten to even start on the soup for lunchtime and domestic trivia waited for attention all around me. I needed to make a decision. I went back to bed to read. Yes, I know; wasn’t that disgraceful?!!

 So, with confession out there, I will tell you a little about None So Blind. If you enjoy historical fiction, if you can’t get enough of reading about crime, or mystery; in fact if you just enjoy a brilliant read – this is the book for you.
 The background to the story is the Rebecca Riots in West Wales at a time of social unrest and upheaval.

I never give spoilers in my reviews; I prefer to say what I think are the strong points of the stories. But neither do I shy away from those aspects that didn’t work for me because I realise that my viewpoint, as with everyone's on everything in life, is subjective.

However there wasn't anything that didn't appeal to me with this novel.
 From the start the main plot, the discovery of why a young woman has been murdered, is an intriguing and complex story-line. But it is interwoven with many equally fascinating subplots that subtly reveal the complexities and injustices of the social system and conventions of the era. Nothing is as it seems on first glance.

It is obvious Alis Hawkins has carried out her research thoroughly and drip-feeds it throughout this unique and original narrative. 
Narrative that winds around the characters we meet in the book. There are many well rounded supporting characters: but the main ones we follow, are the protagonist, Harry Probert – Lloyd, a lawyer whose career is ruined by the onset of blindness and John Davies, a young lawyer’s clerk, who becomes Harry’s eyes for him. Although not his social equal, the reader becomes aware of the growing friendship between the two.

One thing that I would like to mention; something that occurred to me many times throughout None So Blind is the interesting notion of having Harry Probert – Lloyd, a character with increasing sight problems, as the protagonist (hence the play on words with the title). This gives an intriguing and unusual viewpoint for the reader to follow and underlines the awareness of the use of the other senses to the reader

I loved the writing style of the author; the story is told through the first person point of view in subsequent chapters – one of my favourite techniques to read in a book, And there is a great deal more to recommend about None So Blind...

The dialogue is excellent; there is no doubt who is speaking (no doubt of the accent they speak in, either) and no mistaking their social standing. The internal dialogue reveals much of the personalities of the characters and of the awareness and acceptance of class at this time; even though the author cleverly portrays the undercurrent of resentment in the working and perceived lower classes.

There is a good sense of place of Wales in this period, in the descriptions of the streets and roads, the countryside, the portrayals of the farms, the large town and country houses, the living areas of the poor. 

And a mention here of how the depiction of the weather creates the background and atmosphere for certain scenes.

I think this book would work well as a  television drama.

All in all an excellent read. 

I would thoroughly recommend None So Blind to readers who enjoy historical fiction, mystery and crime fiction.

About the Author:

Alis Hawkins grew up on a dairy farm in Cardiganshire. Her inner introvert thought it would be a good idea to become a shepherd and, frankly, if she had, she might have been published sooner.

However, three years reading English at Corpus Christi College, Oxford revealed an extrovert streak and a social conscience which saw her train as a Speech and Language Therapist. She has spent the subsequent three decades variously bringing up two sons, working with children and young people on the autism spectrum and writing fiction, non-fiction and plays. She writes the kind of books she likes to read: character-driven historical crime and mystery fiction with what might be called literary production values. 

As a historical writer, Alis takes her research very seriously which sometimes has unexpected consequences. Research into the techniques of medieval charcoal burning led to a fascination with the craft and she and her partner are now regular members of the team that keeps the earth burn charcoal-producing technique alive in the Forest of Dean.

Series: The Teifi Valley Coroner historical crime series, featuring Harry Probert Lloyd and John Davies. Published by Freight Books 2017, second edition coming soon from The Dome Press (November 2018).

Trilogy: The first of the Black Death trilogy, The Black and The White, will be published by Sapere Books (summer 2019).

Standalone: Testament – previously published by PanMacmillan, will be re-issued by Sapere Books (June 2019).

You can find more on Alis and her writing on her website: www., on Facebook - Alis Hawkins Author - and on Twitter: @Alis_Hawkins


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