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.
Thanks to Tracy at Compulsive Readers and Orion publishing for my Arc of the debut novel from Sam Hurcom, A shadow on the Lens,
1904, Thomas Bexley, a forensic photographer, one of the first in his field, is sent to investigate the body of a teenage girl found in a small rural village, very much off the beaten track, Dinas Powys.
On arrival, Thomas soon finds things are not as they seem, from what appears to be a staged murder, to the local councillor and far from useful local police Constable.
As his investigations pick up pace. Thomas is set upon by a raging fever, no longer does he know if any thing is as it seems
Sam Hurcom writes a compelling chilling story, an excellent tale of a small, insular village, frightened of myths and superstition.
Told over a week in June, the story tells of Thomas’s investigation and gradual workings of the case while he battles his illness.
With twist and turns a plenty, the author takes you deeply into this story of murder and deception. Who’s telling the truth and who can Thomas trust, and will anyone even talk to him
Starting out as a historical thriller quickly becomes something much darker and more macabre.
What feels like quite a Classically written story, is done very well, and I really did enjoy this quite excellent debut and will certainly bring looking out for more investigations from Thomas Bexley
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