Bleak North - Photos, Stories and Reflections from the Highlands

The Cave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Available from AMAZON as a paperback (£8.99) or an e-book (£5.99)    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cave-Barry-Litherland-ebook/dp/B00L9G8GV4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1407264586&sr=1-1&keywords=barry+litherland

 

 

 

Also available from Waterstones or any good book shop. Available at Orcadian Book Shop, Kirkwall, Orkney and at First and Last, JohnO'Groats and The Book Shop, Ullapool.

 

Published by New Generation Publishing May 2014  isbn  978-1-910266-82-3

 

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                                                             Reviews of The Cave

 

 

Review by Kevin Crowe published in Am Bratach Jan 2015

 

 

 

“The Cave” by Barry Litherland, New Generation Publishing, 2014. £8.99

 

It is always good news to hear of a local writer having a first novel published. It is particularly good  when the novel is as readable, well written and gripping as “The Cave”. The author is a retired school teacher who lives near Mey in Caithness, and as well as writing he is interested in exploring the natural world and photography. I understand he has two more novels due to be published in the near future. You can find out more about him, his interests and his writings on his website: http://www.bleaknorth.net .

 

The novel is set in a fictional coastal area of the northern Highlands. It opens with incomer Garth Fielding discovering a body in a remote cave in a  rarely visited area of bleak moorland. Garth, who has recently bought a derelict house which he is renovating before his wife and son join him, only looked for the cave because it is mentioned in an ancient guidebook, though the guide's author describes it as unpleasant. It isn't long before other bodies are found in the area.

 

It falls to DI Jack Munro and his team to uncover what happened, and in this he is assisted by his friend pathologist Dr Alexander Finlay, who is in charge of the local mortuary. This task is made more puzzling by the presence of children's clothes near the body. When later both the body and the cave seem to disappear, the question is raised as to whether or not the death is supernatural.

 

Both Munro and Finlay are much too grounded in the real world to countenance such superstition, and Munro does his best to keep a lid on what little he knows. However, local journalist Simon Keller has other ideas.

 

Throughout the novel, the author creates a brooding and menacing atmosphere of mystery and danger, enhanced by his vivid descriptions of the changeable Highland weather: mists, high winds, lightning strikes, heavy rain and occasionally sunshine all feature. The plot is well thought out and beautifully paced, with several red herrings and a wonderful denouement that is both surprising yet, in retrospect, should not have been unexpected. He teases both his characters and the readers. And, despite the ever present menace, there are some nice touches of humour.

 

He produces some memorable characters. Jack Munro had once been a detective earmarked for fast tracked promotion, but decided for his own sanity to work in a remote rural setting with a slower pace of life. He is popular with his team, despite his fondness for sarcasm. He has little patience for time waster and prefers those who come straight to the point. However, when necessary or when in the company of those he respects he can become more loquacious. He tends to think carefully before taking action. Kate, his wife of many years, plays a key role in the plot.

 

Alexander is a widow, the former love of his life having died many years earlier. He is portly probably because he is more fond of the pleasures of life than of exercise. Brought up a Catholic, but lapsed for a long time, he finds himself caught between his lack of faith and his inability to let go of his religious upbringing. He has a highly developed sense of humour and enjoys macabre practical jokes. He spends one evening a week relaxing with Jack and Kate.

 

Garth Fielding and his wife Alice and son Euan are incomers. They decided to move from the city, partly for a slower and quieter pace of life and partly so Garth could write the book he had been planning for some time. Garth moves to the ruined house first and spends his time renovating and making it habitable for his family. The reader is given the distinct impression that Garth will always find more work to do and delay – perhaps permanently – writing his book. Anyone who has ever faced a blank sheet of paper or a blank computer screen waiting for words to be written will be familiar with this! Not only does Garth discover the first body, but in an old buillding on his land finds a diary that gives an account of a centuries old mystery – a mystery that may be relevant to some of the strange happenings in the locality.

 

Simon Keller is a local journalist with ambitions to work for the national press. He is an unsavoury character with a reputation for writing scurrilous pieces, just short of libel, about local dignitaries, some of which he has sold to the more downmarket red tops. He is always on the look out for scandal, and he has the ability to twist any story so as to present his victim in the worst light possible. He takes great pleasure in this skill. He has the knack of knowing who to watch and who to talk to, and he can wheedle information out of the unwary and naïve. He is heartily disliked by Jack, Kate and Alexander. He, in turn, finds these public servants to be pompous.

 

This is an excellent crime thriller, and I look forward to reading his future novels. The author is perhaps overfond of adjectives and, in particular, adverbs, and sometimes overuses them – particularly in the opening chapters. However, that apart, I recommend this to anyone who loves good, well plotted crime fiction with strong characters.

 

 

Kevin Crowe, December, 2014.

 

 

 

                                                      Reviews posted on Amazon

 

‘The setting for this novel, with its unique denouement, is perfect. The writer has made use of the brooding mountains and the flora and fauna and the scents and smells. The reader is there, silently joining in the lives of the characters. The author shows knowledge and love of the Scottish countryside, using its moods to enhance the story. Conversation passages between characters cleverly convey their personalities.’

 

‘I very rarely bother spending time giving reviews however felt this deserved the recognition and praise. I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish. The author made me feel that I was right there in the story with the characters whilst experiencing the beautiful scenery surrounding them. I certainly hope that there is more to come from this talented writer, would totally recommend this book, a must read!’

 

‘gripping from the first to last page - more on the way I hope’

 

‘just a damned good read very entertaining not bad for a first time author’

 

‘Enjoyed this book immensely and looked forward to going back to it every day. Beautiful style of writing takes you straight into the story, which I am sure would appeal to most readers. The scottish highlands are so well described I felt I was there.’

 

I was tad sceptical when I read the summary for this book but I am so glad I purchased this as it was a great read. The main characters were engaging and I particularly liked Sandy. I am hoping that there will be a sequel

 

 

Fantastic Read. Well done Barry. A gripping tale from start to finish, full of imagination and intrigue. Looking forward to your next book.

 

Barry's descriptive prose is excellent. Plot races along, setting is vivid, characterisation maybe needs some work but I'm hoping we'll see that in the second novel. I have a feeling Barry Litherland will be a popular author in a few years time and I want to be able to brag I was here from the start....

 

 

Great read! Loved this book! I was taught by Barry Litherland, longer ago than I care to admit, and he inspired a generation of readers. I enjoyed the descriptions of the countryside, the charcters and the twists of the story ... who was real, who was a ghostly figure created by a vivid imagination. I was hooked by all the emotions and at times couldnt read it in the dark! Well done - looking forward to the next one!

 

 

Love a good crime novel and this did not disappoint. Exceedingly clever storyline, I was gripped from the beginning. Looking forward to next book!

 

 

Totally hooked from start to finish reading The Cave. I would highly recommend this book, you will not be disappointed! Truly felt like I was there the whole time reading this book, could imagine their faces, their homes and their surroundings. Very well written, looking forward to the next novel....soon please!

 

 

Every now and again I buy a book by an unknown author.Sometimes the result is a disappointment but not on this occasion.The quality of his writing coupled with a highly descriptive style immediately grabbed my imagination setting the scene for an intriguing mystery.

Once into the story I felt compelled to read on and as with any good read i was disapointed that it had come to an end.I shall be looking out for further stories...

 

 

The Cave - Front Cover The Cave - Back Cover