Rocastle’s Vengeance by James Morley
Out of work sea captain Peter Wilson takes a job as harbour master in the Dorset yacht harbour of Old Duddlestone. He is surprised to learn that his own father, James Wilson, was the harbour’s wartime commander. There are unsolved crimes involving this secretive community dating back fifty years. The deaths of the entire personnel of a research laboratory, then a rape and murder followed by a lynching. Peter, aged ten, witnessed his father’s suicide. Now he hears disquieting rumours about James Wilson’s dubious activities in Duddlestone. Peter forms a relationship with single-mother, Carol Stoneman. When Carol’s ten-year-old son is abducted, Peter is forced into a situation that nearly bring his own destruction.
5* Terrible cover but great crime adventure
This gentle paced crime adventure echos the sleepy area that it is set in with it’s holiday feeling and lack of hustle and bustle. Yet against this background dark secrets and menace await the main protagnist and those around him.
The harbour, a strategic British Naval base during WW2 is being restored and when Peter arrives he finds out that his father was once the harbour’s war time commander. The area is steeped in secrets dating back to that time and his own family history comes under scrutiny as Peter is forced to revisit his father’s suicide, an incident he witnessed at the age of 10. He begins to question what he has been told about his father and whether rumours that he was involved in smuggling at the end of the war contain any truth. A series of strange events make Peter Wilson begin to wonder what is going on at the harbour now and he is drawn deep into the mystery. What happened at the end of the war appears to be influencing the present and the police seem to have their hands tied. When two children are kidnapped Peter is required to act as go-between and put his own life in danger.
The experiments of WW2 in the bunkers under Porton Down and the secrecy surrounding Government activity of the time, and today, are the basis for this novel. Told first person, Rocastle’s Vengeance is a complex story that weaves between secrets of the past and present as the tight-knit community of Duddlestone, and neighbouring Military base, struggle to keep control.
A thoroughly enjoyable novel set around a sailing background. The character of Peter Wilson is believable and the landscape setting a key part of the story. Although initially a gentle read, the plot has numerous twists and turns and the body count soon rises as anyone who gets too close to the truth is at risk.