Constable at the Dam
Constable at the Dam was published in hardback in 1997 (by Robert Hale) and in paperback by Headline in March 1998. Nicholas Rhea described it as a new departure for the Constable books, a novel rather than a collection of tales (see below).
When Sergeant Blaketon learns of the Swanland Corporation's plan to build a reservoir in a beautiful valley near Aidensfield he is more than a little concerned. The project, he is convinced, will result in drunken brawls between
construction workers and the local men, competition for and among the local women, and a general disruption of village life.
As work gets under way, however, the community of Aidensfield remains relatively unchanged. But as PC Nick patrols his beat he becomes aware that, for some, the dam cannot help but have its effect. Local artist Gordon Precious and his glamorous wife Deirdre seem to be heading for stormy waters, and teenagers Elaine and Denise have developed an alarming fascination with the construction site...
Nicholas Rhea comments:
"This differs from most of the Constable titles because it consists of one long story instead of a linked collection of anecdotal tales. In other words, it is a novel rather than a collection of humorous yarns. For some time now, I have felt that the work of a constable on the moors would provide sufficient material for longer stories told in greater depth. These are not crime or detective stories, but a reflection of the varied work of the police. I selected the construction of a dam as the keystone of the tale because I wanted to show how the countryside can be changed through the decision of people far removed from the locality, and how such a decision would affect the nearby villagers. And, of course, Greengrass comes into the tale - he finds a skeleton at the dam site!
From what I have heard from publishers and readers, they like the new format of these Constable tales, and I shall follow this with further longer tales."
"So I admit it - I'm a Heartbeat fan. The Constable books offer something more. Greengrass, Blaketon and the North York Moors background are there; so too are a countryman's eye, a good literary style with apt quotations to start each chapter, and some charmingly provocative observations of human nature. An 80-something shoplifter is just one of the colourful characters PC Rhea has to deal with.
The main story revolves around something which has hit many rural communities - development, in this case of a dam, and its effect on landscape and local people. Matters reach a very dramatic climax, and my only criticism is that the blurb gives too much away.
This is a delightful book."
Telegraph and Argus, 31 January 1998
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