I’m thrilled to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour for debut novel A Shadow On The Lens by Sam Hurcom. Thank you as always to Tracy Fenton for the invitation and to Orion Books for my copy of this deliciously dark and creepy book.
About the book:
The Postmaster looked over my shoulder. As I turned to look I saw a flicker of movement from across the street. I felt unseen eyes peer at me.
He walked away without another word. I watched as he climbed onto his bicycle and sped away down the street. I turned back and looked over my shoulder.
Someone had been watching us.
1904. Thomas Bexley, one of the first forensic photographers, is called to the sleepy and remote Welsh village of Dinas Powys, several miles down the coast from the thriving port of Cardiff. A young girl by the name of Betsan Tilny has been found murdered in the woodland – her body bound and horribly burnt. But the crime scene appears to have been staged, and worse still: the locals are reluctant to help.
As the strange case unfolds, Thomas senses a growing presence watching him, and try as he may, the villagers seem intent on keeping their secret. Then one night, in the grip of a fever, he develops the photographic plates from the crime scene in a makeshift darkroom in the cellar of his lodgings. There, he finds a face dimly visible in the photographs; a face hovering around the body of the dead girl – the face of Betsan Tilny.
About the author:
Sam Hurcom was born in Dinas Powys, South Wales in 1991. He studied Philosophy at Cardiff University, attaining both an undergraduate and master’s degree. He has since had several short stories published and has written and illustrated a number of children’s books. Sam currently lives in the village he was raised in, close to the woodlands that have always inspired his writing.
A SHADOW ON THE LENS is Sam’s debut novel.
A Shadow On The Lens by Sam Hurcom is a deliciously dark and creepy gothic style novel that gets under your skin from the very first page. There is an underlying sense of menace running throughout the book that sends shivers up and down your spine. It put me very much in mind of classic novels such as The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, as the author skilfully takes you on a terrifying journey of discovery that will both shock and horrify you.
It’s the story of Thomas Bexley, one of the first forensic photographers, who is called to the sleepy and remote village of Dinas Powys to investigate the murder of sixteen year old Betsan Tilny, whose body has been found bound and horribly burnt. But it quickly becomes apparent that all is not as it seems and the murder scene has been staged. As the strange case unfolds, Thomas is struck down by a mysterious illness and, in his fevered state, becomes increasingly aware of a presence watching him. With the villagers reluctant to help, all Thomas has to go on are his own gut instinct and the photographic plates of both the crime scene and Betsan’s mutilated body that he develops in the cellar of his lodgings at the local Inn. There, to his shock and horror, he sees a face hovering around the body of the dead girl – the face of the victim herself, Betsan Tilny.
The remote Welsh village of Dinas Powys is brought vividly to life, with the strange and secretive villagers all adding to the sense of fear and foreboding as Thomas tries to uncover the truth behind Betsan’s murder. From the moment he sets foot in the village and meets Councillor Robert Cummings, Thomas is filled with a sense of unease. As he becomes gripped by fever this feeling increases and he begins to see and hear things he knows cannot possibly be true. Is it his illness distorting the truth? Or is the ghost of Betsan Tilney really there watching him as he tries to solve her murder?
A Shadow On The Lens is a fabulously compelling, dark and atmospheric tale that’s full of mystery and suspense, with a spooky supernatural element that will get your heart racing and send icy cold shivers down your spine. The use of forensic photography, still in its infancy at the time this book was set, is a subject I find fascinating and I loved the parts of the book that dealt with this important advance in technology.
The creepiness of the dark cellar as Thomas developed the photographic plates is a part of the book that will stay with me. Heartstoppingly terrifying and the stuff nightmares are made of. Chilling!
Sam Hurcom has written an impressive historical fiction debut that once started I could not put down. The perfect book to read on a cold, dark winters night, especially as we edge ever closer to Halloween. A dark and scary read that I would highly recommend.
A Shadow On The Lens by Sam Hurcom is available to buy now: Amazon UK
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