Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, May 12, 2017, 9:43 a.m.
Many readers – okay, at least one – have comfortable refuges and guilty pleasures. Read something heavy – a bulky bio, a literary classic, an historical tome – and then scurry back to relaxing, reliable delight. It might be a comedy – a Carl Hiaasen or a Dan Jenkins – or hard-bitten crime – Elmore Leonard, Raymond Chandler – or one of John Steinbeck’s short novels of whimsy, or a Larry McMurtry western …
… Or a mystery. A Dick Francis mystery. Francis died a few years back. Fortunately, he was so prolific that I’m nowhere near reading all his reliable tales of horse-racing intrigue.
(I’m running out of Leonard. That’s a problem.)
In Farleigh Field, by Rhys Bowen, fills my void. It quenches the thirst left in the aftermath of Francis’s illustrious career, and it echoes a favorite television show of mine, Foyle’s War. Mystery, coupled with World War II intrigue. What a smooth combination.
It all starts with a thud. On the estate of Lord Westerham and his five daughters, a parachute fails to open. Though the body found on the estate, Farleigh Place, is clothed in a British Army uniform, the remains are those of an impostor. From the field where the body lies does the plot spread and thicken.
Ben Cresswell, confined to desk duty after surviving a plane crash, is sent by M15 to investigate why an apparent German spy has crashed into Farleigh Field. It all gets mixed up in love, family, loyalty, and, well, geography.
The reader winds up playing chess with the author, and it’s a lovely match. Disloyal members of the English aristocracy, the Gestapo, the French Resistance, and all five of Lord Westerham’s daughters take part with gusto. A dashing hero arrives home from a prisoner’s camp. Personal loyalties wither against the tide of war.
It’s a rousing yarn Ms. Bowen has woven into form.
If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)
I’ve written six novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.
The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.
Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.
Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.
I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.
I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.
I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.
I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.
I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.
Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.
Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).