In Two Minds by Alis Hawkins Dome Press May 2nd 2019
Harry Probert-Lloyd, a young barrister forced home from London by encroaching blindness, has begun work as the acting coroner of Teifi Valley with solicitor’s clerk John Davies as his assistant. When a faceless body is found on an isolated beach, Harry must lead the inquest. But his dogged pursuit of the truth begins to ruffle feathers. Especially when he decides to work alongside a local doctor with a dubious reputation and experimental theories considered radical and dangerous. Refusing to accept easy answers might not only jeopardise Harry’s chance to be elected coroner permanently but could, it seems, implicate his own family in a crime.
I have to say I was very pleased to find myself back in the Teifi Valley and the rugged Welsh landscape. It was even better to once again meet Harry Probert-Lloyd and his trusted sidekick John Davis.
Once again we had a dead body and once again Harry didn’t contend himself with a simple verdict, Harry wanted the truth and didn’t care whose feathers he ruffled.
Ruffle feathers he definitely did and Hawkins certainly led us on a twisted and convoluted story. I felt like I was in an episode of Line of Duty where the myriad of characters were all potential culprits before Hawkins about turned and once again you were surprised and thrown into turmoil.
What Hawkins did so well was to develop her two main characters, Harry and John. If the first novel, was their introduction then In Two Minds it was Hawkins way of showing us more facets of their personalities, of them growing into their individual roles.
For Harry, the reluctant heir, it was more about his relationship with his father, so often strained you wondered if they would ever find a common ground and perhaps make amends. Yet it was also about his acceptance of his future role, a role he did not want and his place within the local community. Hawkins skill was to place Harry in a community reluctant to accept more modern thinking and methods and subvertly she gave us a wonderful history lesson.
Poor house doctor Reckitt and his theories on the workings of the brain and medical methods were perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects and I loved his somewhat odd personality and the reactions he provoked from others.
If there was one character who I loved more than any then it had to be John. He was a man who wanted to be more but also had to accept disappointment and it was his tenacious attitude and drive to be more than just Harry’s assistant that Hawkins brilliantly portrayed. I felt that he grew and matured, gained confidence, showcased that he was more than an intelligent match for Harry and those around him.
Their partnership was one that grew in front of you, that saw mutual respect and understanding develop. It’s was as if book two was a test to see if what began in book one wasn’t merely good luck, but the laying of foundations for a working partnership that could last many years.
Many might be thinking that it would be necessary to have read book one but I can quite categorically confirm that book two worked perfectly well as a stand-alone.
It was a novel you don’t want to miss, with its fascinating characters, it’s landscape and best of all its twisty convoluted story. Hawkins has left me hoping book three will follow very soon!
I would like to thank Dome Press for a copy of In Two Minds to read and review and to Emily Glenister for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Alis Hawkins grew up on a dairy farm in Cardiganshire. After attending the local village primary school and Cardigan County Secondary school, she left West Wales to read English at Oxford. Subsequently, she has has done various things with her life, including becoming a speech and language therapist, bringing up two sons, selling burgers, working with homeless people, and helping families to understand their autistic
children. And writing. Always. Nonfiction (autism related), plays (commissioned by heritage projects) and, of course, novels.
Alis’s first novel, Testament, was published in 2008 by Macmillan and was translated into several languages. (It has recently been acquired for reissue, along with her medieval trilogy of psychological thrillers by Sapere Books).
Her current historical crime series featuring blind investigator Harry Probert-Lloyd and his chippy assistant, John Davies, is set in Cardiganshire in the period immediately after the Rebecca Riots. As a sideeffect of setting her series there, instead of making research trips to sunny climes like more foresighted writers, she just drives up the M4 to see her family.
Now living with her partner on the wrong side of the Welsh/English border (though she sneaks back over to work for the National Autistic Society in Monmouthshire) Alis speaks Welsh, collects rucksacks and can’t resist an interesting fact.