This week, a chance discovery in my local library – Mablethorpe by W.S. Barton. The author and indeed the publisher, Rudling House, were new to me, but I have at least been to the beach at the eponymous east coast resort. The novel could have done with more stringent editing, but captures well the precarious and isolated feel of an out-of-season caravan park. The plot revolves round the lives of a number of park owners and their children, and when the first child goes missing, suspicion falls on one of them, Mark Smith. The police are convinced they’ve got the right man, even if the proof is inconclusive. However, as spring returns, the disappearances begin again. What if the prime suspect is innocent?
Many people like to pretend that class distinctions barely exist, but one of the last great divides is the caravan park. Those whose holidays consist of a week in a static caravan (aka trailer in the US) are considered, erm, less advantaged, which means that Mablethorpe, with its in-depth dissection of caravan-park mores, holds some of the fascination of an anthropology textbook revealing the forbidden rites of distant tribes for the uninitiated. The detection element is weak, but Barton is a man who knows about caravans, and for that alone, plus the east coast atmosphere, it was worth giving this a go.