Life in a quiet 1940s West Country village is shattered by a series of unexpected arrivals. Initially a young evacuee is mistaken for a Nazi spy by the Five Boys and then the Americans down the road cause upheaval as they prepare for D-Day. But neither of these incidents compare to the chaos caused by the arrival in the village of the mysterious Bee King with avenging plans of his own.
This is a charming tale of childhood adventures and rural life during the second world war, with a very satisfying twist! The threat of war looms on the horizon, and even invades in the form of Bobby, a young evacuee from London; and later, an imposing camp of American soldiers.
The action does not centre on war however, but on the dynamics of small town living with its quirky and sometimes rather disturbing characters. The book reads like a bizarre version of the television series Heartbeat with the peaceful countryside being episodically interuppted by mystical characters evoking an air of adventure and magical realism. The dark tension of war is mirrored in the small town with troubling undertones that keep this book on a cliff-hanger all the way through. The delinquent games that the five boys play seem harmless in comparison to the exploits of some of the adults of the community, particularly the memorable incident involving a pig and a coffin.
This book is a delightful mixture of hilarity, suspense and dark imagination. Jackson's use of language is evocative and incredibly satisfying to read.
This page was first added to The Deckchair website on 25/04/2006.