DYFED ODYSSEY: Connell O'Keeffe and The Spider's Web by Patricia Watkins
|DYFED ODYSSEY: Connell O'Keeffe and The Spider's Web by Patricia Watkins|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Much more than historical fiction - it's a very satisfying thriller set in Dyfed at the end of the 18th century. Recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 262||Date: August 2012|
|Publisher: Down Design Publications|
|External links: Author's website|
Connell O'Keeffe looked to be settled. His stud was prospering. He was deeply, enduringly happy with his wife who was expecting their second child and despite the loss of his arm some years before which had put an end to his acting career, life was good. Then one morning Morgan, his manservant brought bad news before he was even out of bed. Khayri, one of his brood mares, was missing from her stable and there was a ransom demand. Reluctant to lose the mare - or to be beaten - O'Keeffe and Morgan set off to retrieve Khayri, hoping to be back that night, or - at the worst - the next day. Little did O'Keeffe know that it would be many months before he saw his home again.
The mark of a good story is when you read about what the characters do and know that you wouldn't have done anything differently. Apart from the initial setting off to retrieve the mare there was nothing that O'Keeffe did that didn't find me nodding in agreement - but then this is the end of the eighteenth century rather than the twenty first and there was more of a need to look after your own affairs rather than rely on 'authority' to do it for you. But despite all that O'Keeffe found himself getting deeper and deeper into danger and even though I knew that he would see his home again, I really couldn't see how he was going to do it. It's a masterpiece of plotting and it had me forgetting to breathe on occasions.
It's not just a historical thriller though. The characters are good - even those who play minor parts. The band of gypsys who 'look after' O'Keeffe after he has an unfortunate encounter with an adder all come over as individuals, with their own values and their chosen way of life. At the other end of the social hierarchy Katherine O'Keeffe's parents (and wealthy landowners) have a deep concern for the welfare of their pregnant daughter and a slightly different one for their son-in-law - but there's a real humanity about them. As a bonus there's a real feel for Dyfed and as you read you understand what it was like to live there over two hundred years ago.
The book read perfectly well as a stand alone, but you will get more out of it if you know the full story of what happened to O'Keeffe before The Spider's Web begins. For more about Haverfordwest we can recommend The Wayward Gentleman: John Theophilus Potter and the Town of Haverfordwest, the lightly fictionalised story of Patricia Watkins' great-great-great grandfather.
You can read more book reviews or buy DYFED ODYSSEY: Connell O'Keeffe and The Spider's Web by Patricia Watkins at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy DYFED ODYSSEY: Connell O'Keeffe and The Spider's Web by Patricia Watkins at Amazon.com.
You can read more about Patricia Watkins here.