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Best-selling novelist Denzil Meyrick’s latest publication, A Large Measure of Snow, could be the perfect antidote to the boredom and uncertainty many of us are experiencing at the moment.
The 149-page novella set in Kinloch – a fictional town based on Denzil’s native Campbeltown – may stir up some memories for those who lived through the blizzards of the 1940s and 1960s and, more recently in 2013, which saw Kintyre cut off from the rest of the country.
Released yesterday, on Thursday October 1, the book – a special edition hardback which is also available in e-book and audiobook formats – is set in December 1967. Kinloch has suffered heavy snow and, with all roads closed, the only way to feed and water the townsfolk is for the fishing fleet to sail to Girvan for much needed supplies.
However, the skipper of the Girl Maggie, Sandy Hoynes, has a problem. First mate Hamish has, to everyone’s astonishment, been chosen as Young Fisherman of the Year by a Glasgow newspaper. Marooned in the town and with one eye on a scoop, the newspaper’s reporter decides to join the fishing crew on their mercy mission. The thought of the publicity – and some remuneration – delights Hoynes. But Hamish hasn’t told him the whole story.
As the blizzards worsen, the crew of the Girl Maggie embark upon a trip like no other, encountering ghostly Vikings, gigantic crustaceans and a helpful seagull.
Although set in the same location as the critically acclaimed DCI Daley series for which Denzil is most well known and sharing some of the same characters, he says the novella is very different. ‘This is much more humorous and there’s a wee bit of satire in there as well,’ he told the Courier.
‘It’s light-hearted – in my mind, it’s an antidote to the terrible time we’re having. It’s old fashioned; it harkens back to Compton Mackenzie’s books and the Para Handy and Whisky Galore, it’s written in that kind of style. It would be ideal as a wee stocking filler.’
As it is not possible to hold official launch events under current government restrictions, Denzil and fellow Campbeltown author Freddy Gillies – whose latest book, Coal Fires and Tuppence for the Bus, to which Denzil contributed, was released last month – have teamed up to hold a digital launch.
The duo will discuss their new releases, as well as a number of slides showing photographs of Campbeltown and its fishing fleet in the 1960s and 1970s, provided by Freddy. The package will be shared on Denzil’s website and publisher Birlinn’s website as well as sites like Facebook and YouTube around publication day.
Denzil, who now lives with his wife Fiona on Loch Lomondside but whose home town is never far from his mind, dedicated the book to the memory of Campbeltown paramedic Robert Black, who died in May after a battle with Covid-19.
He said: ‘I think it’s good to dedicate it to somebody who has done something or achieved something or, sadly in this case, died far too young in the course of their job.’
Thanks to thousands of pre-orders, the book sold out before it was even released with more copies having to be printed to meet demand. It is available to purchase now from the usual outlets.