I’m keeping my attentions north of the border today with a review of the first novella in the Tales from Kinloch series by Denzil Meyrick, A Large Measure of Snow. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
It’s December 1967, and the town of Kinloch is cut off by heavy snow. With all roads closed, the only way to feed and water the townsfolk is for the fishing fleet to sail to Girvan for much-needed supplies.
But the skipper of the Girl Maggie, Sandy Hoynes, has a problem. First mate Hamish has, to everyone’s astonishment, been chosen as Young Fisherman of the Year by a Glasgow newspaper. Marooned in the town and with one eye on a scoop, their reporter decides to join the fishing crew on the mercy mission. The thought of the publicity – and some remuneration – delights Hoynes. But Hamish hasn’t told him the whole story.
As the blizzards worsen, the crew of the Girl Maggie embarks upon a trip like no other, encountering ghostly Vikings, gigantic crustaceans and a helpful seagull.
Oh my. I did love this trip back in time with one of my favourite characters from Kinloch, Hamish. If you have read Denzil Meyrick’s short story, Empty Nets and Promises, then many of the names in this novella will be very familiar, especially Hamish’s skipper, Sandy Hoynes, a man whose confidence in his own abilities put him and Hamish in danger, with some very amusing consequences.
Cut off by a horrendous snow storm, the town of Kinloch is in dire straits. Step forward Sandy Hoynes, who offers his services, and his boat, to the town, proposing that he and Hamish can fetch in much needed supplies. But they will have a passenger, one who, if superstition is to be believed, could be dooming the mission to failure before they even set sail …
There is something almost lyrical about the way in which Denzil Meyrick has framed this story, bringing not only the town of Kinloch to life, but also life on the ocean wave, the very traditional, and very hard, trade of fishing that Sandy and Hamish have made their own. It is a real contrast to the DCI Daley series, very different in tone and style, and yet so much of it seems very familiar too. With strong imagery you are put at the heart of the story, and the storm, and yet, as torrid as the storm may be, it is Hamish and Sandy’s story which really draws the focus. Well that and the reporter who joins them on their voyage so that they can write an article about Hamish.
I have to say, that as dangerous as the journey they embark upon already is, what happens en-route does little to help matters, but certainly adds some hilarity to the tale. It’s not just a large measure of snow that plays havoc with Sandy Hoynes senses. Turbulent seas lead to sea sickness, which, in turn, leads to its own set of problems. With giant lobsters and strange radio broadcasts it becomes a journey that the crew won’t forget in a hurry and one which made me chuckle throughout.
Capturing the spirit of the sea, and recounting the kind of tall tale that Hamish has become so synonymous with, I loved everything about this novella. From the scenes within the town, as the community gather to try and determine how best to help the men presumed lost at sea, to the hilarity of that ill fated voyage, it just hit all the right notes for me. But in truth, it is they way in which Denzil Meyrick enveloped the whole story with a kind of mysticism, a folk tale kind of vibe, which really elevated the story above the norm. Even from just reading the prologue, I got a kind of shiver down the spine. There is something very Kinloch, but also something very traditional about this book that just marks it as something special.
Full of laughter and with such beautifully descriptive prose and a real sense of the spirit of the sea and sea-faring communities like Kinloch, this is the perfect fireside read and most highly recommended.
About the Author
Denzil Meyrick was educated in Argyll, then after studying politics, joined Strathclyde Police, serving in Glasgow. After being injured and developing back problems, he entered the business world, and has operated in many diverse roles, including director of a large engineering company and distillery manager, as well as owning a number of his own companies, such as a public bar and sales and marketing company. Denzil has also worked as a freelance journalist in both print and on radio.