I live in Lincolnshire, which is a big shooting county and many people living in rural areas here are quite familiar with the work of gamekeepers, because they are to be found working on most estates either single-handedly, like the one in the book, or sometimes as a beat-keeper under a head-keeper. All of them are usually a breed apart and tend to keep themselves to themselves, living more or less by their own rules. They are usually loners and work some very odd hours. On the very large estates they often all go to the same pub and otherwise have the unnerving habit of keeping fairly invisible, yet they know a great deal more about what is going on locally than anyone might reasonably think.
I was surprised to discover just how much I actually enjoyed it. It is not a long novel and in fact I read it in two days, partly because it was difficult to put down once started. The author obviously writes about a subject he either knows much about, or has researched well, and the story is a good one and well thought through. The book essentially tells about a single-handed gamekeeper on an old estate which has seen much better days and in which the present young owner, after inheriting the estate, has developed other interests and begun to neglect his inheritance. The old story, I suppose, of clogs to clogs in three generations. He being the third.
There are black clouds looming on the horizon and an unsympathetic, non-shooting agent managing the estate on the owner’s behalf does nothing to help make the gamekeeper’s life any easier. Some quite forbidding events occur and the reader is never sure of their source until the last few pages. In this respect, it is much like a Dick Francis novel.
The book is well researched and moves not only about the estate itself (there is a helpful map of the estate provided) but also to South Africa and to South America in an interesting and convincing way. This is a good read and is well written. The characterisation and the plot are excellent.The Shrew left me wanting to read more. I hope other books from this author, an obvious countryman, are forthcoming.