Today a brand new novella from one of Scotland’s top crime writers is being released as an exclusive eBook. Denzil Meyrick returns to Kinloch, this time set in long before the emergence of Scotland’s biggest small town detective!
It’s July 1968, and Kinloch’s fishermen are in trouble. Redoubtable fishing-boat skipper Sandy Hoynes has his daughter’s wedding to pay for – but it seems the that the fish have disappeared! He and the crew of the Girl Maggie come to the conclusion that a new-fangled supersonic jet which is being tested in the skies over Kinloch is scaring off the herring.
First mate Hamish, who we first met in the D.C.I. Daley novels, comes up with a cunning plan to bring the laws of nature back into balance. But as the wily crew go about their work, little do they know that they face the forces of law and order in the shape of a vindictive Fishery Officer, an
Exciseman who suspects Hoynes of smuggling illicit whisky, and the local police sergeant who is about to become Hoynes’ new son-in-law.
Meyrick takes us back to the halcyon days of light-hearted Scottish fiction, following in the footsteps of Compton Mackenzie and Neil Munro, with hilarious encounters involving ghostly pipers, the US Navy and even some Russian trawlermen.
EXTRACT FROM EMPTY NETS AND PROMISES
Sandy Hoynes took his seat at the head of the table. Since he’d called the meeting, he reserved the right to chair proceedings. By his side, his first mate Hamish took a sip of his whisky and grimaced. ‘I’m no’ jeest sure whoot distillery this came fae, but they’ve a lot tae learn aboot the art of making a good dram, and no mistake. I’ve cleaned my kitchen floor wae mair appetising fare.’
‘Whoot dae you expect for two shillings a heid?’ replied Hoynes. ‘In any case, we’re no’ here for the whisky.’ He tapped the side of his glass with the stem of his pipe, and soon the room came to order. Though there were only thirty seats around the table, as many again stood leaning on the backs of chairs, looking expectantly at Hoynes.
‘Can I make a point of order before we start?’ said an old man sporting a cavernous yellow Sou’wester despite being indoors. Spare flesh hung from his throat beneath a sparse grey beard, and His voice was rasping and weak, though his dark eyes were keen.
‘Aye, you can that, Johnny,’ replied Hoynes with a sigh.
‘I’m no’ sure that you’re the right man tae be chairing this august body of mariners. I’m the auldest skipper in the fleet, and as such the honour should be mine.’
‘Well, if you’re so old and wise, why didn’t you call a meeting yourself?’ piped up Hamish in defence of his shipmate.
‘Och, Hamish, but you’re a loyal wee dog, so you are. Your faither must be proud, looking down and seeing that you’ve replaced him wae Sandy Hoynes. The heavenly tears will be spilling doon his face, I’ve nae doubt. It’s jeest a pity he couldna keep a hauld o’ his own boat, then you’d be a skipper in your ain right noo.’
‘Don’t worry, Johnny,’ intervened Hoynes. ‘If he’s looking tae replace his great-great-grandfaither, I’m certain sure he’ll be at your door in jig time. Noo,’ he changed the subject quickly, not giving the old man time to upset Hamish further, ‘we all know whoot a perilous position we’re in wae regards tae the fish – or lack o’ them, mair accurately.’ There was a murmur of agreement around the room. ‘The question is: why is it happening, and whoot can we dae aboot it?’
‘My mother says it’s tae dae wae the telly and radio, and suchlike,’ offered a tall, thin youth in a black pea jacket. ‘She reckons the signals is fair going through the fish and sending them off in the wrong directions – you know, confusing the poor buggers.’
‘Aye, aye. Noo, I can see that being a valid notion. If they’re as confused as me when I listen tae thon pop music, I’m quite sure the buggers are driven tae distraction. But somehow, I canna think she has the right of it there, Wullie.’
‘Well, I’ve seen many things in my life – once you’ve been at the mercy o’ a German U-boat, the rest o’ the world seems a gentler place – but I’ve yet tae see a fish showing any interest in the television. And even if they had, it’s unlikely they’d get a decent signal doon there in the depths.’
Amidst the chuckles, Hamish said, ‘You’re right, Sandy. My poor mother gets nothing but interference, an’ she’s only at the top end o’ the Glebe Row.’
You can purchase the eBook here: Empty Nets and Promises
The Birlinn Team