‘Snippets of my history’

That name looks familiar

The name Procter or Proctor can be found listed among Rye’s mayors back in the 18th and 19th centuries so it was very appropriate for a descendant, David T Procter, to launch his book about a thinly disguised Rye in the Town Hall.

And he was back in the summer at the Rye Country Show with a stall promoting his latest book, a very up to the minute detective thriller, which is again set in familiar territory.

But “Dead Men Lie” was set back in the 1770s and involves rebellious colonies, dastardly French, the occasional smuggler, Revenue men, militia and a Royal visit to Stormouth. However the town’s description seems terribly similar to Rye and the Butts may well be mistaken for the Salts.

Those familiar with Rye’s colourful past (as surely a descendant of former mayors, plural, must be) will not be surprised by this rollicking tale of dubious merchants, even dodgier publicans, narrow streets and awful alleyways.

And the Colonel of the 3rd sums it up well in the book : “Nothing in this town is innocent….the entire place is riddled with lies, innuendo and deceit”. But this was Stormouth/Rye back in the 1770s of course.

On the other hand “Forgotten Souls” is a very “today” thriller which touches again on smuggling – often in the form of human trafficking, and migrants/refugees, This is a complex saga – as all thrillers should be – with a myriad of interconnecting crimes.

My eye was caught in particular by the role played by the bomb that could blow up Kent – the sunken munitions ship off Sheppey which could (allegedly) resemble a nuclear explosion if its full and rotting cargo ever detonated. I recall writing stories about that in the mid 60s when working on the Kent Messenger…and the hulk still sits there, posing a real threat.

Again David Procter has used his local knowledge to good effect, but it would be too easy to give the plot away. It is however gripping and full of action (like his historical novel) and very much of today, rather than the 1770s.

Asked how he finds his inspiration, he says : “That’s simple. From my own history. You see I have a past which encompasses those mystical places, namely Rye and Romney Marsh . . . and I take snippets of my history”.

For more information visit www.davidtprocterbooks.co.uk.

Photo: Ray Prewer