Harry Probert-Lloyd has inherited the estate of Glanteifi and appointed his assistant John as under-steward. But his true vocation, to be coroner, is under threat. Against his natural instincts, Harry must campaign if he is to be voted as coroner permanently by the local people and politicking is not his strength.
On the hustings, Harry and John are called to examine the body of Nicholas Rowland, a radical and pioneering schoolteacher whose death may not be the accident it first appeared. What was Rowland’s real relationship with his eccentric patron, Miss Gwatkyn? And why does Harry’s rival for the post of coroner deny knowing him? Harry’s determination to uncover the truth threatens to undermine both his campaign and his future.
Welcome to The Reading Closet on my day of the Those Who Know by Alis Hawkins blog tour that has been organised by the wonderful Emily at Dome Press. Thanks again Emily for the tour invite and for sending out a copy of the third in The Teifi Valley Coroner series in preparation for this review. Those Who Know was published in ebook and paperback on the 24th of September. You can purchase yourself a copy here. If you haven’t read the first two books of the series, why not treat yourself to those too? They are brilliant!
I love a slice of historical fiction, as well as a crime procedural with a storyline that you can sink your teeth right into and boy does Alis deliver just that. Set in Wales, this historical crime fiction follows the two protagonists that we have come to know and love, Harry Probert – Lloyd, partially blind acting coroner of Llanddewi Brefi and John his assistant who is about to qualify as a solicitor. The time in which the novel is set is 1851, a time when becoming a coroner is about greed rather than investigating one’s death in the name of justice – Harry is all about the justice which has begun to ruffle some of the feathers from further up the political chain and therefore he must begin to canvass to become the elected official coroner with another that has been sent from London. We already see that there is a bond between Harry and John, not only does it feel like that very much of a father – son bond, but John is also the eyes behind the investigation, which is more important now while both our protagonists are trying to win the vote of those who are important to him being elected. The dynamic between these two is wonderful, Alis has clearly focused on the character development carefully to help create a duo that you really can’t help but fall in love with.
The case within the plot involves the death of much respected teacher Nicholas Rowland, where many may believe that his death could have been an accident, Harry’s sharp instincts strongly points in another direction. You, as the reader will feel like a third party in the investigation as the clues are sewn together, revelations uncovered and trying to infiltrate a tight knit community in order to find out what happened to Mr Rowlands and whether an innocent will be blamed. With the stress of both the inquest and election, Harry and John must overcome their worries to prove to those watching closely that a partially blind man and his assistant are worthy choices for the coroner position. I found that the minute details of the case, especially the forensic detail that is entwined into the descriptions – for me as a reader, this shows attention and the extent to which Alis has researched the information she has included within the storyline. That scores extra high for me in terms of book ratings.
Those Who Know is a 444 page novel, with alternating view points between John and Harry as they investigate, I found the whole setting and atmosphere of this novel charmingly written with inclusions of Welsh names that really tugs you further into the story. Journeying back to Alis’ impeccable attention to detail, she has also kindly made sure to include both a glossary of Welsh terms, as well as some historical notes in terms of places, people etc. Alis’ perfect planning has created for an even more perfect historical crime fiction that I fully recommend that you read!
Thanks again to Emily for the tour invite and the opportunity to read this gripping, brilliantly crafted novel that had me flying through the chapters. Also to Alis for writing it, not only is she one of the most wonderful of people but her writing is just pure escapism to another time and place.
Until next time,