Friday, 22 October 2010

'Shadows in the Watchgate' by Mike Jefferies

I read this book, 'Shadows in the Watchgate' (Grafton, London, 1991) by Mike Jefferies a few years ago, and decided to re-read it. The first time I read it I just could not put it down. It is a really unusual read. And for me it had a special appeal because it is set in Norwich, Norfolk and refers to places like Castle Meadow and Elm Hill. It is a fantasy revolving around the Norwich taxidermist Ludo Strewth who manages to conjure up evil through the Hand of Glory.

Ludo then also becomes obsessed by the lovely American model Tuppence Trilby, and decides that he wants to preserve her - i.e. kill her and stuff her. She could then sit along all the other stuffed animals in his shop and he could admire her as and when he wanted to. He is able to bring the stuffed animals to life through the magical evil powers that he has been able to conjure up through the Hand of Glory and he uses them to help him with his mission.

Meanwhile, Tuppence buys the Watchgate House, but that can't protect her. Dec Winner the volunteer fireman saves her life, falls in love with her, and tries to help her escape from the taxidermist's dangerous, 'live', stuffed animals. Finally, Dec is able to destroy the Hand of Glory and they are then safe.

Certainly a worthwhile and gripping read. I shall, perhaps, try reading some other books by Mike Jefferies at some point.

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