Black Shuck (The Devil’s Dog)
This is a very spooky tale about the North East coast of Norfolk, to be precise, the area round Blakeney and Cley. We know the area reasonably well, having spent many days wandering in the area, and can vouch for its spookiness in bad weather, though none as awful as described!
Nature film maker Harry Lambert, has just lost his best mate in a filming accident and returns home to find that his wife has left him for another man. Urgently needing peace and solitude, he books a cottage in Blakeney for a few days bird-watching, or so he thinks. While there, he gets to meet the locals and finds that they have a lot in common, such as a love of nature. From there he goes to see the seals on Blakeney Spit. He finds a strangely mauled seal and reports it to the warden. Since, by this time he has to leave the cottage he is staying in (his room is booked for someone else), and spots the lonely Customs watch house (currently used as a hostel) on the spit, which he thinks it could be the ideal spot for peace, solitude and reflection and moves in. Needless to say he gets only one of his expectations!
Well into the class of Stephen King and Conan Doyle (Hound of the Baskervilles); it seems strange that so many of this type of story involve mad dogs/wolves/rats! We never hear of mad horses for instance! I suppose these tales reflect our deepest fears, which could be why we like them!
Very good, but don’t read late at night!
Reviewed by John C Reynolds