Down Among the Dead
1940 – France has fallen and Britain stands alone against the might of the German war machine; a fierce battle for supremacy of the air rages in the skies as the Battle of Britain hits full stride. For Chief Inspector Frank Parade, and his much depleted team there are many challenges to policing the small Welsh mining village of Gilfach Goch, for whilst miles away from the theatres of war the Home Front faces unique challenges of its own. The wartime demands thrown on the country mean that each officer in Parade’s team must do the work of two men – three even.Soon the already overwhelming workload is increased when not one but two bodies turn up, and Parade finds himself having to investigate two murders as well as cope with everything else thrown his way. ‘Chief Inspector Frank Parade is going to become the new superstar cop. An excellent book.’ *****
The book is a very good tale of crime and murder, and also gives an insight into the conditions people in rural Wales lived in during the war years. The narration is great and very easy to listen to.
I enjoyed the story and am looking forward to hearing more from this author. Review of the Audible edition *****
Down Among The Dead
The following extract is taken from Chapter Two of Down Among The Dead (C) Gary Dobbs
‘You say they’ve found a body in a
graveyard?’ Detective Chief Inspector Francis Charles Parade frowned. ‘Not an
unlikely place to find one.’
Sergeant Hugh Llewellyn looked at his superior, unsure of how to answer. The inspector had only been stationed in the
village a few weeks, transferred from the town of Pontypridd, and Llewellyn had
yet to get used to his ways.
little levity,’ Parade said, noticing the look on the sergeant’s face. He
grabbed his heavy coat from the hanger besides the door and slipped into it. It
was nearing the middle of a blazing hot July but the mornings still held a
chill and the inspector couldn’t tolerate the cold. It never used to bother him
that much but these days he felt it bone deep. A sign of getting old, he supposed.
come on then,’ he said. ‘Let’s go investigate. It is after all what we get paid
said and followed behind the inspector. There was a police car waiting for them
outside the station, a young constable at the wheel. Parade and the sergeant
jumped into the back of the vehicle and the sergeant brought the inspector up
The dead man was
thought to be somewhere in his early fifties and by all accounts, had been
discovered, face caved in, amongst the ruins of Llanbad Church.
found the body while out looking for stray sheep,’ Llewellyn said, consulting
his notebook. It was he who had taken the telephone call from the frantic
farmer. He had immediately sent for the police doctor and ordered two
constables to secure the scene before waking the inspector. ‘Reckons it must
have been about two in the morning when he stumbled across the body.’
telephoned at what time?’
four,’ Llewellyn replied.
‘Why the delay?’
‘Well he went
back to his own place,’ Llewellyn had already asked Elkins the same question.
‘He said he didn’t think anyone would be in the office of the nearby colliery,
and he knew it would be pointless trying to wake Tom Coggins at the Griffin
Inn, which was only a mile or so away. Elkins said he was in shock at the time,
not thinking clearly. Finding the body gave him quite a nasty turn.’
‘I imagine it
would, ‘Parade nodded. ‘It took him some time to get home?’
consulted the notebook before speaking. ‘A good hour and a half. There was a
thick fog down and he said he stumbled over the mountains, getting lost in the
process. He then took a drink, homebrewed ale -he was very specific on that. He
said he then collected his thoughts and made his way into the village to find a
telephone. They don’t have one at the farmhouse, you see.’
Parade said. ‘Not to have a telephone. Even in this day and age.’
‘ I spoke to
Elkins on the telephone myself since I’d pulled night duty at the station,’
Llewellyn continued. ‘It was evident that he was still very much shocked by his
‘And where is
this Elkins now?’ he asked.
‘I believe he’s
at home,’ Llewellyn replied. ‘Taken to his bed. ’
likely be getting him out of there before too long,’ Parade said. ‘If he wanted
to sleep he shouldn’t go around turning up dead bodies.’
The police vehicle pulled into the yard of
the Hendreforgan Colliery. Constable Watkins who directed them to park the car
besides the colliery office, which was situated directly to the left, met them
at the gates. Ahead of them stood the imposing structure of the wheel, which
would lower the workforce into the bowels of the earth where they would spend
their shifts. Smoke bellowed from the huge chimneys, which towered towards the
sky, choking the early morning light while the sound of straining metal echoed
from the winding house.
‘Got a bit of a
climb, sir,’ the constable said as Parade and Llewellyn stepped from the
vehicle. ‘The doctor’s gone up a few minutes ago.’
‘Then lead the
way, Constable.’ Parade said. ‘Nothing like a brisk early morning stroll.’
weakly, getting used to his superior’s odd manner.
‘We’ve got a
horse and cart waiting, sir,’ the constable said. ‘And that’ll take you some of
the way but you’ll have to use shanks’ mare for the last part of the
journey. No tracks up to the old church, sir. Not anymore.’
‘This is the
easiest way to the site,’ Llewellyn said. ‘Elkins came upon it over the
mountains. His farm is a mile or so yonder in the other direction.’
and climbed up into the cart, which was driven by a local man, whom Parade knew
by sight but not by name. Llewellyn climbed up besides the inspector and the
cart pulled off.
‘I ordered a
couple of constables to secure the scene,’ Llewellyn explained. ‘And the police
photographer’s up there but the crime scene should still be fresh.’
replied and thumbed Rubicon tobacco into the bowl of the pipe he had pulled
from his coat. ‘I do so like a fresh murder scene. We are assuming this was
‘Elkins said the
head had been bashed in, so yes.’
looking ahead as the trail they were upon steepened. It would be a bugger to
have to walk up here.
‘By all accounts
the man may have been dead sometime,’ Llewellyn said, reading from his
‘You’ve not seen
the body yet, though?’
‘No, I came
directly to the station house,’ Llewellyn answered. ‘But Elkins gave quite a
colourful description. Said the thing was, “bloody crawling with
maggots and had no eyes.” ’
delightful. Just the sort of thing to see before breakfast.’ Parade stuck the
pipe into his mouth and brought a match to it. Within seconds he had smoke
seeping from the corners of his mouth.
END OF BOOK EXTRACT
The paperback edition retails for £9.32, the audiobook for £16.00 but the electronic eBook is currently available for only 99p with comparable prices in other markets worldwide.
Clearly the eBook allows you to get the book for a steal, however the new paperback edition is handsome indeed and it's not overly expensive considering the quality of the product you get. There is a way to get the audiobook version, read by the incredibly talented Aubrey Parsons, for free. All you have to do is take out a no risk free trial with Audible and select the book as your first free audio title. This option offers more than five hours entertainment. Imagine five plus hours in the velvet voiced company of Aubrey Parsons.
I recently listened to the audiobook again myself, a chapter or two a day during my daily commute, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The narrator's voice is spot on and he brings out the nuances of each character in his performance. Listen to a sample HERE
It's 1940 - France has fallen, and Britain stands alone against the might of the German war machine; a fierce battle for supremacy of the air rages in the skies as the Battle of Britain hits full stride.
For Chief Inspector Frank Parade and his much-depleted team, there are many challenges to policing the small Welsh mining village of Gilfach Goch, for while miles away from the theatres of war, the home front faces unique challenges of its own. The wartime demands thrown on the country mean that each officer in Parade’s team must do the work of two men - three even.
Soon, the already overwhelming workload is increased when not one, but two bodies turn up, and Parade finds himself having to investigate two murders as well as cope with everything else thrown his way.
The book, billed as a Chief Inspector Frank Parade wartime mystery, is just that - the start of a crime series set on the home front during the second world war. Think of Edward Marston's Home Front Detective books or TV's Foyle's War for an idea of what to expect. Though I do think Parade is sufficiently different and should be able to find his own place with the affections of readers everywhere.
I gave this book five stars because it was a murder mystery that was quite similar in style to Agatha Christie with a bit of Sherlock mixed in. The author made me feel like I was actually stood at the side of Chief Inspector Frank Parade watching him work. So if you like murder mysteries I highly recommend you give this book a go. *****
|THE AUDIO BOOK|
There is now a special large print hardcover version in the works for the public library trade, and as soon as I know the date of publication I will let you, the readers of this blog, know.
Well done police procedural. Chief Inspector Parade is a good cop with a wry humor. Faced with a double murder and little help he must find a muderer. *****
Mr. Dobbs has created a complex character who is both dilligent and compassionate. This is a well written story. a tantalizing mystery and a excellent description of the difficulty of policing in war time. The dectecive sergeant and the young teacher who captures his interest make up the supporting cast--who one hopes to see in future stories. *****
In the meantime why not check out Down Among the Dead and meet Frank Parade and his team, follow them as they work in the Welsh home front village of Gilfach Goch meeting the demands thrown at them, while the war rages in the skies above them.
Chief Inspector Frank Parade is going to be the next superstar cop *****
Author's Note from all editions of the book:
The location in which this novel is set is factual – I was brought up in the small Welsh mining village of Gilfach Goch, and still live in the general area. And although I have taken some liberties with the geography of the area, in the interests of telling a story, I have tried to capture its true feel and colour. I hope that readers of this work will find that the village is almost a character in itself. ©2017 Gary Dobbs (P)2019 Gary Dobbs