Probably about a month ago, or maybe more, who knows in this timeless time, I finished reading a most amazing book and wrote about it here. The book was Beast by Chris Speck:
You can imagine how excited I was to find Chris was in the last stages of getting his next book ready for publication, A North Sea Tale. Beast was set in Hull, and that’s where this latest book is set, in 1975; it’s now published and I’ve read it and it was just as gripping, well written, interesting and vivid. The story may start in Hull but it’s actually set on a fishing trawler called the Cuckoo. This is what the Amazon blurb says:
The Cod Wars rage.
If Skipper Richard Bird doesn’t catch enough fish this time, he’ll never sail another trawler out of St Andrew’s Dock again.
Even with the new deckie learner, Danny, he’s four crew down already. There’s a lot to deal with out in the North Sea. Gutting for sixteen hours straight, the freezing cold water in your wellies, the waves as big as houses crashing over the bow and the narrow eyes of the rough Hessle Road lads. When Danny finds the dead body of the bosun in the wheelhouse, he knows there’s something terrible on board.
I’ve been to east coast fishing ports, and seen trawlers, but I’ve never really properly wondered about what happens aboard. Of course I’ve seen films too of people in sou’westers raging seas, but that didn’t really translate into what the men go through, exactly how hard and tough it is, how very dangerous it is. Next time I have fish I will eat it respectfully thinking of how it was brought to my plate. And this is the thing with the book. Yes it’s a murder mystery, but it’s also an amazing insight into a particular sort of life at sea. More than that it is brilliantly, skillfully, subtly written.
Very greedily, I want the next book by Chris – whatever that might be!