Two John Gaskins
Gaskin, John - The New Inn Hall Deception
One tale concerns an old slight, one of those childhood resentments we grow out of and laugh about.
Another is of the legacy. A gift from the hitherto indifferent, if not hostile, relative.
“Faces In A Garden” … well … there are carved faces, as well writings in the garden. The new landowner, tackling heavy overgrowth, makes some puzzling discoveries.
The real centerpiece is the titled novella, “The New Inn Hall Deception.”
Treasure mislaid, misidentified, misappropriated. Rare coin and rare plate inform the tunnel vision of the collector, and the greed of the sanctimonious.
Two settings. The cloistered professorial world, and the neglected, perhaps abandoned, forlorn church in the wastes.
A dollop of the macabre muddles the proceedings and pushes most of the characters into corners.
Gaskin, John - Time Of Passing
An elegiac assortment of, if not eerie tales, then tales skirting the supernatural. A melancholy tone pervades this, as well, as the author has stated this may be his final collection.
The title story is of the weathered lock-keeper and the young man in his charge. College boy, and not
particularly keen on work. Resentment and ignorance prove a lethal mix, especially after sunset.
The new Bursar, one Mr Flynn, wants the ancient graveyard removed – excuse me, relocated – to make room for a parking lot. Most efficient, and yet, “The Stone Guest” is a warning about shifting the dead, and their gravestones.
“The New Member” is a supercilious sort, buying his passage into a privileged club, more concerned with status instead of decorum. A humorous affair, reminding readers to pay attention to clauses.
Rev Danby, retired minister, locked in a stagnant, if not loveless, marriage, has one passionate hobby. Collecting antique silver. He purchases a rare Tudor piece, despite murmurs of a dark history. “The Return Of Fire” … well, collectors are so often deaf, dumb and blind.
“The Sea” closes the stories. Young child Brian travels via train to Scotland. During a moment’s pause, he catches a vie of the sea that is magical, unforgettable and haunting. So haunted, that over the decades, in trip after trip, he searches for and cannot find that sea vista. Memory or enchantment?
A noteworthy assortment, and if this is the last outing, a fond farewell from Mr Gaskin.