What a first novel! A tale of four children who grow up together in a Welsh valley town in the 60s. With flashbacks from the present we know that something awful happens to one of them, but we don't know who or what. The tension builds as the children's daily lives move towards disaster. Thirty years later a retired detective returns to Wales and finally discovers the truth. A book with humour, pathos and above all, it's a really good read!
Dancing Duck Lane is no longer marked on the map, perhaps it never was, but it can still be found. From the hump-backed bridge take the road to the left and keep close to the crumbling walls that enclose the charred ruins of the Big House where the roof has long fallen in and where a descendent of the Old Bugger lives now. Magpies yammer in the overgrown kitchen gardens and the statues of the white-skinned girls lie mildewing where they have fallen in the long wet grass. Follow the curve of the river away past the lonely recreation ground. There the ghost children turn the solitary roundabout, invisible feet kicking up the black dust, their voices rising and falling on winds that still blow up the valley from the faraway sea. Climb over the rotting stile and on past the withered tree. Dancing Duck Lane is an overgrown track leading nowhere in particular. Only the rubble remains now of Carty Annie's tumbledown house. Dandelion clocks, stinging nettles and yellow poppies grow there in wild profusion. Stoop down and run your fingers through the damp soil and there in the black coal earth you will find the splintered remnants of tiny bones and the fragments of a hundred broken jars, jars that once held so terrible and so marvellous a secret.