The Swimmer

Although this summer’s reading has, in part, been more of the same – i.e. not reading as much as I would like to in those blissful days away from the office, ruining all my pristine copies by jamming them into the bottom of my rucksack, etc, this August/September did hold a couple of firsts in store for Literary Relish; both of them coming in the form of The Swimmer, a debut novel by Derbyshire author David Haynes.

David Haynes : eBook : 2012 : fiction : print length – 220 pages

First of all, this is the first time that I have taken tentative steps towards reading the precious work of someone who is not only brand new to the scene but also self published. Secondly, by virtue of this being a self-published debut novel, it is only available electronically…eek!

Now, although I can hardly be said to hold the same loathing that some book worshipers hold for eBooks  I’m hardly a fan of this soulless format for my own personal reading (although I can see the many merits/advantages for other people) and I did have to read this book in it’s entirety on my tiny iPhone! However, to the detriment of my poor little eyes, it was worth the effort and I have been pleasantly surprised by an experience that I originally approached with some trepidation…

Joseph George is an ex-detective turned novelist with a burning desire to get away from it all. Following success with his first novel and a run-in of his very own with the law, he decides, whilst working on a new book, to isolate himself completely from his fellow man; moving to a remote cottage on a stretch of windswept headland in Cornwall. This hermit-style existence is soon shattered with the interference of determined young journalist May Jones. After witnessing the disappearance and subsequent death of an anonymous swimmer in the wild seas raging outside his seaside cottage, Joe (along with May) becomes embroiled in the dark past that looms over the area, focusing around the Levant Tin Mine and May’s boss, David Polglaze.

Happily, this simply but well written novel had me sufficiently hooked for nigh on a week and fell perfectly into our holiday down-south in the very area in which the book is set. It has also made me realise that, although I will always be faithful to the paperback, a good story is a good story whatever format it comes in. Haynes’ main characters are realistic and endearing, if a little predictable at times, and – as I was able to see by charting the little e-notes I popped in the margin throughout, manages to keep the mysteries unfurling right up until the very end, and I really didn’t expect any of it! Tense, vivid and pretty gruesome at times, despite minor typos and small sections where editing could have been a little tighter (there is a whole argument to be had here about the pros and cons of self-publishing) this is an entertaining read and if you’ve got a Kindle and wanting to take something a bit lighter on holiday with you this Autumn, this book is a bargain!

My only main whinge, if any, would be the end. After chapters and chapters of building tension leading up to the highly dramatic and unexpected conclusion, the book just…..well…stops. However enjoyable my read had ultimately been I couldn’t help the slight frustration at loose ends that I feel perhaps weren’t tied up as well as they could have been. Perhaps I’m meant to keep guessing, fill in the ‘what happened next’s’ and the ‘whodunnits’ myself. Mummy Relish would love it. I am slightly lazier and don’t like to have to figure these things out myself!

All in all a great experience. Thanks David!

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