Author Marion Eaton has created a resourceful solicitor hero who is equally cool in different epochs.
Solicitor Hazel Dawkins inhabits two menacing worlds in Marion Eaton’s edgy supernatural thriller.
In one world, it is 1976 and pregnant Hazel is setting up her own practice in sleepy Rype-in-the-Marsh in Romney Marsh. Cajoled by pushy bank manager Paul Stone, who embodies the chauvinistic attitudes of that time, Hazel finds that her skills in drawing up wills are in demand.
Yet when Hazel checks some title deeds belonging to the Dickensian-drawn Mrs Pendant who ‘must see the solicitor at once!’, she becomes a magnet for gun-toting criminals. Hazel has sinister dreams too, waking up to the smell of blood; she and her husband Bruce hearing unseen horses galloping down the high street.
Even their home, Rose Cottage, has a chilling association with nightingales, and it is here that Hazel has her first intimation of her ability to delve into another dimension.
This realm concerns the Marsh smugglers known as the Owlers and their conflict with the Eaglewood Gang in the 18th century when the death penalty was meted out for smuggling wool. The history of the Owlers nicely intersperses the story and prepares the reader for when Hazel actually ‘slipped through the veil’, or goes back in time. With Hazel in the 18th century, the story is at its most tense and atmospheric and the parallels with modern-day nefarious elements smoothly crystallise.
Author: Marion Eaton
Publisher: Touchworks Ltd, £9.49
Her time facing evil in the 18th century is frustratingly short though and I wished that Hazel had been thrust into that misty domain much sooner. Although to do so might have been at the expense of characterisation. Eaton, now retired from legal practice, fully develops Hazel into a likeable solicitor who cannot say no to work, and is scrupulous in preparing wills, noting that nothing should be attached to them, that punctuation can change their meaning, and that dealings with clients are confidential.
Apparitions, bumps in the night, shadows, tunnels and secrets are motifs throughout this first story in the Mysterious Marsh Series. And in Dawkins, Eaton has created a resourceful hero who is equally cool in different epochs.
Nicholas Goodman is Gazette sub-editor