"This is quite unlike any book I have ever read ..
Mysterious and intriguing from the outset ..
It is set in Deep Devon countryside, the Natural World ... not as most of us 'see' it nowadays, but as it once was prehistory, always has been and still is - wild, beautiful and free - sun dappled and secret - dark, primal and foreboding ...
A present day creepy crime thriller, intertwined with ancient Pagan rituals, Green Men, Wood Spirits and Mystical Sacred Groves ..
A few early chapters were a little hard going, but read on and it becomes a book you can't put down ..
Unusually but well written, nicely descriptive with more than a little humour ... and a few shocks, keeps the reader sharp and interested. The twists and turns through out are un-guessable and when the story is finished [except it never really is] there are even more twists ...
Quite incredible ..
Whilst writing the book, the Author couldn't possibly known that 'Coat With Long Sleeves' would be released just as the whole world is locked down ... therefore also Prophetic and thought provoking .
Highly recommended .
Coat with Long Sleeves
by Sue Robinson
First-time novelist Geoff Duck has delivered a mystery tale that satisfyingly evokes the beliefs and legends that lies just below the surface in rural England. After various upsets in his life, the nameless narrator retreats to an old house in North Devon. There he stumbles upon an ancient phial containing goodness-knows-what. Only way to find out is to try it … And so he embarks on his new life of exploring the green man legends and solstice fertility rites – and taking revenge on the locals for good measure.
This man is the archetypal anti-hero, a mixture of Joe Lampton in Room at the Top and Hannibal Lecter. Like Millwall fans (‘no one likes us, we don’t care’), he glories in the role just as he does with the shabby coat with long sleeves that is his constant dress. He watches with interested detachment as a young girl prepares to take her own life without his feeling the need to intervene; he gladly takes a car ride up-country where malice is plainly aforethought when he could have stopped it. ‘I was pretty sure something awful was about to happen … I loved it. I didn’t want it to stop.’ He tells us categorically that God doesn’t exist, that Einstein was wrong etc. Finding out whether he gets his come-uppance is one of the things that keep us reading.
At 510 pages the book is too long for the weight of the story it carries. Less is more. In particular, the first 80 or so pages are rambling reflections on old houses, country ways and life in general, even Xenon lighting. We itch for the story to get going. Nevertheless, much of the writing has great narrative pace, including the suicidal girl and the journey up-country (above).
The author has a habit of throwing out teasers (of the sort ‘You’ll have to wait to find that out’). This use of the grammatical second person is an interesting device, but unlike Charlotte Bronte (‘Reader, I married him’) here it’s used too often.
Some of the supporting characters aren’t firmly stitched into the story. The narrator is involved in an angry brawl kicked off by the father of the suicidal girl, then the whole ‘out to get him’ line disappears. Gramper Uglow and Peter are key figures in the summer solstice ceremony at the holy site called the Clump. They fizzle out mid-rite as the narrator’s actions take over. It’s a pity this finale scene is rather underpowered – but the author makes up for it with an excellent twist in the tale.
For all its imperfections (which the author himself acknowledges), Coat with Long Sleeves is a powerful piece of writing that stays in the memory long after we’ve finished the book.
by Cedric Pulford
Geoff Duck was born in Bristol in 1954 and grew up in a thirties semi in what was then a genteel suburb. He was part of the first cohort to sample the comprehensive system and eventually ended up with a PhD in Digital Signal Processing many years later.
A comfortable academic career beckoned, but on a whim, he and a colleague spun out a fledgling technology company focussed on their research. It was a wily move. The telecommunications industry was humming and a very sexy place to be. The company grew into a global player in its specialist niche.
Exiting just before the dot-com bubble burst, Dr Duck unexpectedly found himself embracing family life. He was in no hurry to return to the frenzy, being after all, something of an accidental entrepreneur. He bought some land and planted trees. Lots of trees. He found an ancient farmhouse that needed a little work to bring it back to life and when it was done and his three children had left school, he â€˜retiredâ€™ to his family roots in North Devon with his wife and they now live in one of the barns in the middle of the countryside looking out over Exmoor and not much else.
He spends his time reading, gardening and walking and now indulges himself with creative writing. Coat with long sleeves, his debut novel, is the result. It has dark moments, but it also has English folklore, green men, nature, the retreat of nature, trees and woodland, ancient vernacular buildings, country churches and pubs. It also has the unexpected.