Over the coming weeks we’ll be serialising “Rhodri, a Suitable Cause for Concern”, a novel written by John Vale.Advertisement
Here he’s summarised the plot of the novel, ahead of the first chapter which will appear on Blog Preston next week!
My story follows a Nordic but Welsh police detective called Rhodri Williams. Born into a sleepy welsh mining village; and despite intense pressure from his family to become a miner, he had his heart set on joining the police force from being a child.
A handsome man who rose to Detective Inspector by his mid thirties but at no little cost, he had almost no knowledge of women and was completely taken off guard when he was forced to take one on as a temporary partner. She was Sergeant Paddy Tyler, a stunning young woman who had recently returned from the USA as an exchange officer. Rhodri fell completely in love but had no idea how to handle the situation and to make matters worse she had a fiancée called Duncan, a doctor whom she left behind in America.
Paddy had problems as she found herself in a ‘man’s world’ and was hardly ever taken as a serious asset to the force; despite the fact she was often more competent than her fellow officers, and to add to her difficulties nobody was more patronising that her very own Chief Inspector who mostly busied himself with rugby and thankfully left much of the investigating to his underlings.
Rhodri and Paddy had been called upon to investigate the appearance of a body in the bleak Blackpool winter. The deceased; a middle aged afro Caribbean, appeared to have been hung as the victim of a racial killing but a post mortem revealed he was killed with snake venom, probably in the summer, his body being frozen until it was dumped by the sea some months later.
The mismatched pair travelled, firstly to Blackpool and finally to the cold Yorkshire Dales where upon they were trapped by the snow. Hampered by the weather and local hostilities Paddy and Rhodri had to spend weeks in one another’s company and a rudimentary romance blossomed. Rhodri fell ill and Paddy spent days lovingly tending to his fever whilst he was completely unaware of her dedication and when he recovered, he failed to realise how much she cared and went about his life wearing blinkers and treating the possible relationship like an alien monster.
Whilst being stranded they had to contend with false allegations, racial prejudice and illness but worse of all interference and intimidation from two wealthy rival families the Rowse and the Rowse Chalmers. These two families had been fighting since the English civil war and the locals referred to the activities as ‘the wars of the Rowses’. They considered themselves to be outside the law, or rather above it and ruled the valleys as far as the eye could see. However, Paddy and Rhodri remained focused on their task and eventually discovered the victim was killed in an accidental struggle with one of the rival families and used as a pawn in a silly game each one played on the other.
Finally the weather cleared and the two officers returned to London never having so much as kissed or spoken of their feeling for one another, desperately in love and thinking they would be assigned to separate cases in the future they were completely unaware of the Chief Inspector’s decision to make them a team on a permanent basis and this would take them into other parts of the country investigating equally bizarre murders.
There is a wealth of comic and interesting characters in this novel, clues and red herrings are given throughout and the final conclusion does not introduce either an identical twin or something from dreamtime.
Overall, the novel is a light hearted ‘who done it’ with a second love story woven within.