When The Clocks Stopped
by M. L. Eaton
In the summer of 1976, in the English village of Rype-on Marsh, lawyer Hazel Dawkins is anticipating some tranquil time off before the birth of her first child. When she agrees to what she thinks will be some routine work, she finds herself drawn into troubling events in the lives of her clients—and in the past. The distant past. Mysteriously, she encounters Annie, a woman whose romantic and tempestuous life took place more than two centuries ago when Romney Marsh was a violent place, dominated by gangs of smugglers. As her destiny intertwines with Annie’s in the shifting time-scape of the past and present, Hazel confronts a terrifying challenge that parallels history—and could even change it. If she survives.
Hazel is pregnant and looking forward to being a stay-at-home mum, but is talked into helping out persuasive bank manager Mr Stone as a Will solicitor. Some of her clients need more help than just a will and Hazel finds herself drawn into a mystery that is centuries old.
The narrative moves back and forth between the 1970s and two centuries earlier, where we encounter Annie and her desperate struggles against smugglers that were rife in Romney Marsh at that time.
There is a good story told here and at times it is well written. The historical chapters are very well researched and interesting. but I do feel that there are two problems; the first is an editing one. There are huge swathes of text that are surplus to requirements. A prime example is chapter 12, where we are treated to Hazel stressing because she keeps on making a mistake on a will, then the typewriter keeps creasing the paper – for the whole chapter. It needs cutting. Then there is Mr & Mrs White, Hazel’s first clients: extraneous characters.
The other problem is telling; to such an extent at one point that it totally gave the game away with one character. I have no idea why the author did it but the book would have been much better served with a little subtlety.
Having said that, the story is engaging and the two different timelines work well with each other. I liked the characters of Hazel and her husband Bruce and their easy humour with each other.
Many thanks to the author for sending me a copy.