Murder in the Welsh Hills by Vic Evans. Book review by John Morris
This free-flowing and gripping and stirring espionage thriller has its roots in Russia, but is set primarily around Llangollen and the picturesque and rugged countryside of North East Wales.
A Keen Awareness
Vic Evans was born in Wrexham and raised on his aunt’s farm in the uplands of Bwlchgwyn. He shows a keen awareness of the Welsh language, social cultures, patterns of behaviour and village characters. This understanding enables him to engage and immerse the reader into the constantly evolving plot.
Readers of all ages will enjoy this intriguing novel. The opening chapter describes a meeting in the Moscow office of Mikhail Potoranin, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister. This meeting sets the scene for the rest of the book and encourages the reader to find out more. However, the main character is retired MI5 agent Huw Cecil who, while visiting his childhood home in Llangollen, becomes the plot’s key figure.
Throughout the book, the author skilfully captures the reader’s imagination as he introduces the characters and subtle details that tie in with plot developments later in the novel.
Drawing from his experience of life in Bwlchgwyn, Vic Evans creates an elaborate framework of social intrigue. His awareness of the incidents, disappointments and relationships which affected the lives of characters such as Huw, Lottie Williams-Parry and many other rural families gives the book authenticity and power. He uses his insight and his knowledge of the Welsh language to reinforce this.
The author particularly touches on the difficulties many rural working-class families have in discussing personal feelings. He discusses the harmful effects of this phenomenon and I’m sure the repressed emotions endured by Lottie will resonate with many readers.
Each short chapter brings additional characteristics of the personalities to life. Vic completely immerses the reader in the main plot and I just couldn’t put it down. I found Huw’s reassignment to North Wales for three months and then issued with an “upgraded weapon and ammunition” particularly captivating. The author’s ability to create such vivid pictures of the characters in the reader’s imagination acts as a further hook into the story.
In conclusion, this novel is thoroughly entertaining and very well-written and will provide readers with immense satisfaction and enjoyment. It is a pleasure to read the work of a Welshman who is proud of his Wrexham and rural North Wales background.
Verdict: Ardderchog (excellent)!
About the Author
Vic Evans was was born in Wrexham in 1936 and grew up in the town and on his aunt’s hill farm in North Wales. He worked in the aircraft industry and in engineering for 26 years before teaching in secondary schools for 20 years.
In his novel, Miriam, he drew on his grandfather’s recollections of stories relayed to him by his father who lived through the Ukrainian expulsions as his family fled tsarist persecution in the 1880s. Vic also drew on conversations with two men from the town of Wrexham who fought in Spain in the civil war and also on first-hand accounts and hearsay of the Gresford Pit Disaster.
Evans started in the aircraft industry as an apprentice with De Havillands working on the Comet, the world’s first jet airliner. He arrived at work one day to find that the whole assembly line had been shut down as a result of a series of crashes. Most of the aircraft types he worked on are now in museums.
About the Publisher
Headline was founded in 1986 with a single promise at its heart: to publish the books people want to read. Sometimes, the most straightforward ideas are best. Their passion for the commercial means they are home to some of the UK’s biggest-selling authors. They continue to invest in new talent with bestseller potential. Their nimble attitude towards the social reading era allows flexibility with formats as never before and create digital bestsellers. The spirit of entertainment thrives in a world where direct communication means they can talk to readers, booksellers and reviewers.
Headline will always represent a modern mindset and an energetic outlook. And always stand for best-in-class publishing. Go to headline.co.uk to find out more.
About the Reviewer
John T Morris played rugby for Dudley College, GWR (Ealing) and Aberystwyth University before injury cut short his playing days. He specialises in fitness training to improve speed, strength and, stamina. John was Wrexham RUFC fitness coach, a WRU fitness consultant and a weight-training coach at the Queens Park centre.
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